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Because forks weren't available in the restaurant, she had to eat the mashed potatoes with her fingers.

Is "had to eat" a phrasal verb equal to "ate"? Thus, making "mashed potatoes" the direct object, Or, is "had" the main verb, leaving the infinitive phrase (...to eat the mashed potatoes....) as its direct object?

Thank you.

Note: I Googled "had to" as a phrasal verb and could not locate it as being one.
Comments  
Hi Bluejay:

Here is the dictionary definition of have to / have got to:
Be obliged to, must. For example, We have to go now , or He has got to finish the paper today. The use of have as an auxiliary verb to indicate obligation goes back to the 16th century; the variant using got dates from the mid-1800s.
BluejayI Googled "had to" as a phrasal verb and could not locate it as being one.
That's not surprising. "have to" is not a phrasal verb. "have to" is an idiom indicating obligations or requirements.

Forks weren't available, so she [had to eat / was required to eat] with her fingers.

CJ
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Because forks weren't available in the restaurant, she had to eat the mashed potatoes with her fingers.

So, what's going on in the above sentence? Is mashed potatoes a direct object of 'had to eat"?

Thanks.
Yes, Bluejay. Mashed potatoes is the direct object. The subject is she, and the tense is simple past.

Regards,
A-Emotion: stars
One more question.

She had to eat the soup. (Soup would be direct object, right?)

She wanted to visit the doctor. (Doesn't the infinitive phrase function as the direct object? And while shouldn't the infinitive phrase be direct object in first sentence?
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Tricky question, Bluejay:

Idioms never seem to follow the rules. That's why they are called idioms.
Here are some examples with the direct object in italics:

She wants ice cream.
She wants to eat ice cream. - clearly the eating is what she wants!

She has ice cream. = she possesses some ice cream.

She has to eat ice cream. = It's not the same meaning of "have" as above. She does not possess "eating ice cream". That's why "have to" is defined as an idiom, and as an auxilliary, not main, verb.
AlpheccaStars wrote the following post on 06-30-2010 4:16 PM: Original Thread

Quote

Tricky question, Bluejay:

Idioms never seem to follow the rules. That's why they are called idioms.

Here are some examples with the direct object in italics:

She wants ice cream.

She wants to eat ice cream. - clearly the eating is what she wants!

She has ice cream. = she possesses some ice cream.

She has to eat ice cream. = It's not the same meaning of "have" as above. She does not possess "eating ice cream". That's why "have to" is defined as an idiom, and as an auxilliary, not main, verb.

Thank you, AlpheccaStars.

I was thinking of the following examples before your post:

He had to eat spinach. (spinach DO)

He wants to eat spinach. (to eat spinach DO)

Yet, he had and wants to do what? (eat spinach)

Weird.
BluejayI was thinking of the following examples before your post:
He had to eat spinach. (spinach DO)
He wants to eat spinach. (to eat spinach DO)
In my opinion these have exactly the same structure.

He wants [ (he) to eat | spinach]
He had [ (he) to eat | spinach]

The object of the main clause is another clause [(he) to eat | spinach].
Within the object clause there is another direct object: spinach.

The difference is that "have to" has an idiomatic meaning. "want to" has a more literal meaning. This difference in meaning has nothing to do with the structure.

Just my two cents.

CJ
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