Complex sentences

Adding more detail

Giving conditions

On the previous page we saw how we use infinitive clauses to give reasons.

Infinitive clauses can also create conditions, which are the requirements that make an event possible or impossible.

Look at each of these snippets and see if you can find the 'possible event' and the condition that makes it possible or impossible:

Mom was making August’s lunch (American cheese on whole-wheat bread, soft enough for Auggie to eat).

WonderR.J. PalacioSource

Suddenly I'm too chicken to go to a café?

Does My Head Look Big in This?Randa Abdel-FattahSource

If you look carefully, you'll see the infinitive clause ("to eat", "to go") turns an adjective group (“soft enough”, “too chicken”) into the condition for an event (Auggie eating the bread only if it's soft enough; me going to a cafe only if I'm not too chicken).

Notice the role of ‘enough’ and ‘too’

Here are some variations using "suddenly I'm too chicken" as a base.

First, a negative condition:

Suddenly I’m too tired to care about the stegosaurus in the swimming pool.

Your turn

Let's flip to a positive condition:

Suddenly I’m loud and angry enough for Elliot to pay attention.

Your turn

We could probably do an entire lesson just on infinitive clauses. They have a few other tricks up their sleeves (one of which we look at on this page of the verb groups lesson).

But you now have the tools you need to recognise them in the wild, and you’ve seen a couple of their main uses (giving reasons and conditions).

Like what you see?

You’re not logged in!

If you want to save your writing, login and either assign this lesson to yourself or access it via your group.