Hi,

"Went downstairs to find my dad cleaning my car." I have two questions about this sentence.

1. in the sentence above "to" is very unusual for me. As I understand, the sentence means; "I went downstairs and found my dad cleaning my car." If so, what's the function of "to" there? It's totally different from its common usage, which is "in order to". For example: Went downstairs (in order) to pick a fork from the kitchen.

2. I found my dad cleaning my car. Is this some sort of structure? For example I would say: "I found (that) my dad was cleaning my car". Is it all about the verb "to find"? Like "I saw my dad cleaning my car"...

Thanks in advance..
johnerWent downstairs to find my dad cleaning my car.
It's definitely NOT infinitive of purpose, as you have said.
It's very common. "We awoke to find ourselves covered with snow." Someone will have a name for it! Emotion: smile
johnerI found my dad cleaning my car.
I hear these with a "be" infinitive: I found my dad [to be] cleaning my car.
Dear Johner

On point (1)

You are right to notice this - it does not mean "in order to" but instead means that there is some surprise or dissapointment. It is sometimes used with the word "only". Very often, the word "find" is used, or there may be a similar verb..

I went to the shop to buy some milk

vs

I went to the shop to discover that they were closed on Wednesdays

I wrote a great essay to impress my teacher

vs

I wrote a great essay, only to find that another student had already used my idea

Hope this helps, Dave
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
johner"Went downstairs to find my dad cleaning my car." I have two questions about this sentence.
1. in the sentence above "to" is very unusual for me. As I understand, the sentence means; "I went downstairs and found my dad cleaning my car." If so, what's the function of "to" there? It's totally different from its common usage, which is "in order to". For example: Went downstairs (in order) to pick a fork from the kitchen.
The subordinator "to" is actually performing the same role in both your examples, but it's the subordinate clauses that it introduces that have different meanings. The bracketed clause in "I went downstairs [to find my dad cleaning my car]" is an adverbial clause of result, meaning "I went downstairs with the result that I found my dad cleaning my car".

In your other example, "I went downstairs [to pick up a fork from the kitchen]", it introduces the (bracketed) adverbial clause of purpose, meaning "I went downstairs with the purpose of picking up a fork from the kitchen".

johner2. I found my dad cleaning my car. Is this some sort of structure? For example I would say: "I found (that) my dad was cleaning my car". Is it all about the verb "to find"? Like "I saw my dad cleaning my car"...
Yes. In "I found my dad [cleaning my car]", the -ing ending signals that it's the participle form of the verb which is typically found in non-finite (tenseless) clauses. The same applies to your other example with "saw".

BillJ
Hi,

When I combine your explanations, it makes perfect sense now. Thanks so much to each one of you.
johnerWent downstairs to find ...
See also Can to-infinitive mean the result?

CJ
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
johnerI found my dad cleaning my car. Is this some sort of structure? ... Is it all about the verb "to find"?
Yes. It's about find, discover, catch, see, and hear, and maybe a few other verbs that allow this pattern.

I [found / discovered / caught / saw / heard] my dad [cleaning / washing / polishing / ...-ing] my car.

CJ