March 5, 2015

Homework Help: Grammar

Posted by Pegg on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 4:01pm.

In this sentence: "He tried to right the overturned canoe."
I am trying to identify what function the word "to" has.
What I know: He-pronoun(subject?),
tried-verb, right-adverb(modifing tried?), the-demonstrative adjective(aka-definite article), overturned-adjective modifing canoe, canoe-noun(object of sentence?)
Would the word "to" be part of the verb as in "to try?" If so, what is that called?
Just trying to understand it all, thanks.

Yes, "to" is the word which makes a verb an infinitive:

to right
to walk
to swim
to try

It's not a preposition or an adverb. It's simply part of the infinitive. So list "to right" as the infinitive which is completing the idea of the main verb, "tried."


"to right the overturned canoe" is the infinitive phrase acting like the direct object of the verb "tried.

It answers the question WHAT he tried. Infinitives can be used as nouns, adjectives or adverbs.... They are one of those handy-dandy all purpose parts of English.

And by the way, overturned is an adjective, but that is a particular adjective , a participle ( a verb acting like an adjective.)

thank you for helping me understand "to"

now with the word "overturned" do I call that a participal or participal adjective? thanks again, Pegg

You can call it either. It is specifically a participle (a verb acting like an adjective.)

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