Hi there!

I actually have some problems with the following underlined non-finite clauses since I don't know whether they are to-infinitival clauses or past participial clauses:

1.) They arrived home to find that the house had been burgled.

2.) For her to have said that was inexcusable.

I first thought of them as to-infinitivals (especially the first one) but I'm not sure at all because there's a "to" as well as a past participle construction in it.

I hope anyone knows more than I do and can help me out of my confusion!



1) They arrived home to find that the house has been burgled.

It is more appropriate to treat the main clause as ' They arrived home to find '

and the subordinate clause as ' that the house has been burgled '.Then, this

subordinate clause is a finite clause (actually a noun clause) which will become the

object of the infinitive ' to find '.

2) For her to have said that was inexcusable.

The underlined is a non-finite clause (a to-infinitival) performing the function of a

noun being the subject of the verb ' was '. As the sentence is quite often written as

' It was inexcusable for her to have said that, such to-infinitival is now in apposition

with the preparatory pronoun ' it '.
Thanks, that sounds quite logical. But is there any possibility that "to find that the house had been burgled" can also be treated as a non-finite clause or is that impossible? Our lecturer told us to treat that part of the sentence as a non-finite clause and I wonder which funtion it would fulfil then.
For me the way you proposed sounds right, I just ask myself whether it can be possible to divide a sentence into main clause/finite clause ans main clause/non-finite clause at the same time. If not, my lecturer would be wrong then....
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To answer your question/s, I have to go into a further analysis of the sentence

concerned - They arrived home to find that the house had been burgled.

Invariably, we go home with a purpose: to eat, to sleep, etc., and in the above

case, to find (something). That is a single idea (a unit by itself) and you don't

break it unless you go into parsing (which is a separate matter) or there are

(within the sentence) extensions by way of adjective/adverb phrases/clauses,


"To find" is a qualifying infinitive performing the function of an adverb of purpose

modifying the verb "arrived".

Now, let us look at the defination of a "non-finite clause". It's simply a

subordinate clause whose verb is non-finite.

I'm sorry to say that your lecturer's treatment is against the defination because

"had been burgled" is a finite verb (in the passive voice).
Actually, "to find / that the house had been burgled," is a non-finite clause. The non-finite verb "to find" (infinitive) takes as its object a finite clause ("that the house has been burgled").

The object slot could have been filled with a noun phrase, or something:
She came home [to find / the dog on the bed].
The non-finite clause in question could also function as the subject of a sentence:
[To find that the house has been burgled] can't have been pleasant for her.

Apart from the definition mentioned earlier, changing the tense of the sentence

doesn't change the non-finite clause.

If there is such a change (for a test), your sentence looks awkward: To find that the house

has been burgled couldn't have been pleasant for her.
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AnonymousI first thought of them as to-infinitivals
You were right. That's what they are.
Anonymousthere's a "to" as well as a past participle construction in it.
Yes. That one also contains a past participle, but that doesn't mean that the underlined part as a whole is not a to-infinitival.
I would say that the non-finite clause in the first example is an adverbial clause of result rather than of purpose or reason. I think it complements the main verb even though it can be omitted. Clauses of result are usually finite, "He arrived so late all his students had left."

I'm not familiar with the term "to-infinitval". I'm assuming it is comparable to "infinitive". I refer to non-finite clauses as verbal phrases. The following sequences are all verbal phrases in my view: "to have said that", "to say that", "having said that". The first two are infinitive phrases and the third is a perfect participle phrase. I consider the infinitive phrase in the 2nd example to be a verbal complement of "her". Other forms of verbal phrases can also complement prepositional objects, but they are usually present participles, "the story about him winning the tournament", "the picture of her wearing a bikini", Infinitve phrases usually only complement prepositional objects when they follow certain verbs, "depend on him to manage the store", "arranged for us to leave early".