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intermediate equivalent form, standing between the single vocable and the Clause, is named the PHRASE: while sometimes consisting of a single-word part of speech in a secondary or non-typical usage, it differs from the part of speech in consisting mostly of some combination of single words; and it differs from the Clause in not possessing the framework of subject and finite verb.

Frequently the Phrase and the Clause interchange with the equivalent parts of speech and with each other for the sake of mere variety.




240. The NOUN PHRASE does the office of the Noun. It may appear in any position in the sentence where a noun may appear; in subject, object, complement, or qualifying adjunct. The sole form of Noun Phrase is the INFINITIVE of the Verb.

The Infinitive, acting as Noun, may interchange with the NOUN itself, and with the other equivalents of the Noun-the PRONOUN and the NOUN CLAUSE. The first and the last interchanges will be exemplified here; the action of the Pronoun as a substitute for the Infinitive has already undergone sufficient treatment (§§ 86-100). Like the Noun, the Infinitive may be replaced by an Adverbial Substitution.

I. INFINITIVE replaced by NOUN.

241. In the following Exercises the substitution is illustrated in the positions common to the two forms. Compare generally §§ 37-40.

The Infinitive is often formally in apposition to an anticipating pronoun, which stands as a provisional grammatical subject: 'It is dangerous to delay. Practically, however, the infinitive may be regarded as subject, the pronoun being thrust aside: It-to delay-is dangerous.'

Further, many cases occur where the infinitive cannot be transformed alone; the adjuncts also undergo the changes necessary to accommodate them to the new form. When the infinitive has an object, this is attached to the substituted noun by means of a preposition (usually, but not always, 'of'): To impeach Pym and Hampden was to impeach the House of Commons,' becomes 'The impeachment of Pym and Hampden was the impeachment of the House of Commons'; 'to resist your acts was necessary'-resistance to your acts was necessary.' When the adjunct is adverbial, it is transformed into an adjectival shape: 'It is imprudent to promise hastily' becomes hasty promises are imprudent'; 'one regrets being angry without just reason'-'one regrets unreasonable anger. (§§ 38, 182.)

Infinitive as Subject replaced by Noun.

242. To be just is more important than to be generous'; 'being just is more important than being generous'; 'it is more important to be just than to be generous': these are three ways of saying the same thing, with an infinitive (actually or practically) as subject of the statement. Another form is this: justice is more important than generosity'; where nouns take the place of the infinitives.

'To delay is dangerous', 'delaying is dangerous', it is dangerous to delay': the same meaning may be given by Delay is dangerous,' or 'Delays are dangerous.'

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1. Fallen cherub! to be weak is miserable. 2. It is encouraging to succeed. 3. To be corrected is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way. 4. Where it is bliss to be ignorant, 'tis folly to be wise. 5. To err is human; to forgive, divine. 6. Doing nothing soon becomes wearisome. 7. To say nothing is often better than to speak. 8. It is the lot of many to work hard and to be poor. 9. To change a name is common with such adventurers.

10. If all the year were playing holidays,

To sport would be as tedious as to work.


1. To conceive absolute beginning is beyond the reach of our faculties. 2. To educate a child perfectly requires profounder thought, greater wisdom, than to govern a state. 3. To have his name proclaimed as victor before assembled Hellas was an object of ambition with the noblest and the wealthiest of the Greeks. 4. Is the being admitted to your favour so slight an obligation? 5. It was his professed purpose to limit as much as possible the number of his wants. 6. Not to know some trifles is praiseworthy. 7. Not to distinguish one colour from another is a form of blindness. 8. It would be most unjust not to acknowledge that the chief agent in these two great deliverances was religion. 9. It would be hopeless to seek to define in any legal form the duties of the Leader of the House of Commons. 10. Better to be alone in the world and utterly friendless, than to have sham friends and no sympathy.

Infinitive as Object replaced by Noun.

243. 'I refused to be comforted'='I refused comfort'; a noun replacing the infinitive.


Every man desires to live happily'=' Every man desires a happy life.'


1. He did not repent being kind to the boy. 2. She cannot claim to be exempted from criticism. 3. He that refuseth to be reproved erreth. 4. They refused to submit to the usurper.

5. In saying this, we do not mean to reproach the author. 6. The commander did not attempt to reduce the city. 7. The York party evidently intended utterly to exterminate their adversaries. 8. He undertook to extirpate the pirates without delay. 9. He affected to be afraid that his own performance would not bear to be compared with his young friend's. 10. As a man, he may not have deserved to be adored by his friends so much as he was; but he certainly deserved to be much loved and very highly esteemed.

Infinitive in Complement or in Phrase into Noun. 244. 'The first object of every enlightened patriot was to deliver the country from the domination of the soldiers.' Otherwise: the deliverance of the country?'

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'Youth is the very time for enjoying oneself': or, 'for enjoyment.'


1. One gets tired of being always dull. 2. He had many plans for encouraging learning. 3. The best course is to confess the fault. 4. We do not wrong him by supposing that he did not know the subject. 5. What he consistently aimed at was to avoid irrelevant discussion. 6. I am surprised at your opposing the measure. 7. After resisting a short time feebly, the town opened its gates. 8. He offended the government by strenuously opposing their policy. 9. The necessity of being always on the alert made the Arab familiar with arms. 10. By being humble and fearing the Lord are riches, honour, and life.


General examples.

1. Talking prevents working. 2. To be dull is construed to be good. 3. Legal writers and speakers seem constantly to repeat what has been said before them, without referring at all to the original sources. 4. He allowed himself no leisure for reasoning or reflecting. 5. No one need expect to be successful without being diligent. 6. To be in anger is impiety. 7. Exposing this fellow's impudence to the contempt it deserves may be of use to my design. 8. To build the wall there was much the same as giving up all the country beyond it. 9. By generously interceding for him, the king prevented his being executed. 10. I threatened to put him instantly to death. 11. To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than to offer sacrifice. 12. To appear constrained in his presence was to disobey his commands, and to spoil his amusement.


245. The Infinitive and the NoUN CLAUSE, being each equivalent to the Noun, are also equivalent each to the other. The interchange is frequently advantageous, on various grounds.

It is again to be remarked that the substitution is to be taken with some latitude. The Infinitive bears with it all its qualifications; and occasionally the noun clause may incorporate along with these some other expression-now an adverbial phrase, now the object, or even the subject, of the sentence. Thus the interchange may result in a very different form of sentence. A peculiar case of the infinitive is the condensed infinitive expression introduced by an interrogative word.

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Instances have been quoted, by Maetzner, showing the two forms in co-ordination under the same construction. 'It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.' Square held human nature to be the perfection of all virtue, and that vice was a deviation of our nature.' While such instances bring out vividly the essential equivalence of the two forms of expression, they are not held up to the pupil as examples to be imitated.

Infinitive as Subject replaced by Noun Clause.

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246. To obey is better than sacrifice' may be changed thus: That one should obey is better than sacrifice.' A noun clause takes the place of the infinitive.

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"The King's dissolving Parliament was not expected.' Otherwise: Otherwise: That the King would dissolve Parliament was not expected'; 'it was not expected that the King would dissolve Parliament.'

How to deal with him was the most puzzling of questions.' Or: How one should deal with him how he should be dealt with-was the most puzzling of questions,'

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