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    • Join Date: Jul 2007
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    #1

    Structure of the sentence

    Could you please explain the structure of the sentence?

    If all we had to do was flatter, everybody would catch on and we should all be experts in human relations.

    Is the "flatter" a verb in this case? If so why was the "to" omitted?

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    #2

    Re: Structure of the sentence

    Hello Tvita!

    It would be correct to include 'to' in this sentence. 'Flatter' is a verb

    The ommission of it is perhaps a more modern style in this example.

    finta

  1. #3

    Re: Structure of the sentence

    Hi Tvita,

    Yes 'flatter' is a verb. There is a multitude of cases in which we use the simple form of the verb without 'to'. e.g. 'I heard him laugh', 'You made me cry', 'Let me go'. I saw him jump'. 'You need not leave'. 'Give and 'take'. 'Help me do it. (US usage)

    I think a better question is 'When/why do we insert 'to'?, but my views are highly personal. What is for sure is that what we call 'the infinitive' does not correspond to what is called the infinitive in most other European languages. For example, 'swimming' in sentences such as 'I like swimming' or 'Swimming is healthy' would be translated by an infinitive in the European lanuages I am familiar with. Some people will tell you that in these sentences 'swimming' is a gerund. If you ask them what a gerund is they will say, 'swimming' in sentences like those I mention. Both 'infinitive' and 'gerund' are terms imported from Latin and have quite different meanings/functions in that language.
    Although there is some overlap between the Latin and English uses of the infinitive, there is no correspondence between the functions described by the term 'gerund'.

    Fred O'Hanlon

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    #4

    Re: Structure of the sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvita View Post
    Could you please explain the structure of the sentence?

    If all we had to do was flatter, everybody would catch on and we should all be experts in human relations.

    Is the "flatter" a verb in this case? If so why was the "to" omitted?
    When do is before "be", to is often (not always) omitted.

    All we need do is threaten them. (from Longman Dictionanry of Comtemporary English 4th)

    The first thing to do is clean the plane really thoroughly.(BNC)
    The thing to do is exploit their weakness, not sink into gloom(BNC)


    • Join Date: Jul 2007
    • Posts: 150
    #5

    Re: Structure of the sentence

    Thank you All of you!

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