Thursday, 24 January 2013

Infinitive Complex Subject

Complex Subject

Noun/Pronoun + Predicate + Infinitive
The combination of a noun in the common case (or a pronoun in the nominative case) and an infinitive forms a complex subject (1).
The predicate which is usually expressed by a verb in the passive voice  is placed between the noun and the infinitive. The relation between the noun and the infinitive is that of subject and predicate.

Note 1: - According to another interpretation the subject is expressed by a noun or pronoun and the infinitive is regarded as a part of the predicate.

Key examples:
  • He is said to be a good teacher. 
  • The boy is known to have passed his exams well. 

The predicate in sentences with a complex subject can be expressed by:


1. The same verbs that can be followed by a complex object  (that is verbs of sense perception: to see, to hear…, verbs of mental activity: to know, to suppose…; verbs of inducement: to order, to cause, to allow…,). The verbs are used in the passive voice.

Patterns. Read and memorize!
  1. He was supposed to bring this book from London. (Predicate is underlined.) 
  2. They are heard to have come from the South. 
  3. They were seen to go home together. This article is expected to be published next month.

2. verbs of saying: to say, to report, to announce... in the passive voice.

Patterns. Read and memorize!
  1. The building of the new hostel is reported to be over
  2. He was said to be writing a new play.

3. the verbs to seem, to appear, to prove, to happen, to turn out, to chance in the active voice.
  1. The telephone happened to be out of order. 
  2. The young man proved to know everybody. 
  3. The house seems to have been damaged by the earthquake.
4. compound predicate: to be likely, to be unlikely, to be sure, to be certain, to be bound.
  1. They are likely to return on Sunday. 
  2. Their team is certain to win. / Their team is bound to win
  3. He is sure to miss this train. 
  4. This house is likely to have been built many centuries ago.

Note. – As part of a complex subject the infinitive is always used with the particle to.