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  1. The iron bar fell on the hard floor to make a loud clanging sound.

  2. The iron bar fell on the hard floor only to make a loud clanging sound.

I'm dealing with "to-infinitive" result case and heard that sentence 1 sounds kind of strange but sentence 2 doesn't.

I don't know why 1 is wrong and 2 is correct because of the word "only".

Could you explain why clearly?

To me, both sentences are natural and grammatical, though.

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fire1I'm dealing with "to-infinitive" result case and heard that sentence 1 sounds kind of strange but sentence 2 doesn't.

Number 1 sounds unnatural, and number 2 sounds natural but is illogical. The structure "only infinitive" is used to represent a contrast between the expected result of the first part and the actual result in the second, for example, "He finally made it to the top of the roof only to slide down the other side." or "She called her back only to get the answering machine again." In your sentence, an iron bar would of course make a loud sound.

Take my first, "He finally made it to the top of the roof only to slide down the other side." If we omit "only", it becomes "He finally made it to the top of the roof to slide down the other side." The structure "someone did X to infinitive", is used to say that someone did X for the purpose of Y, for example, "He went up the hill to fetch a pail of water." That reading is unshakeable, so your other meaning is impossible. Your original would have to be "The iron bar fell on the hard floor making a loud clanging sound."

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Here are some typical examples of the infinitive of result with "only to". Note that the result is surprising or disappointing in some way. The comma is optional. As you see, some writers use the comma; some don't.

The board asked for higher offers only to turn them down later.
The youngster survived the illness only to die in a car crash a few years later.
Kadafi called for negotiations, only to be rebuffed.
I turned up at 3pm, only to find the meeting had been cancelled.
Then they returned to southern Sudan, only to flee again to a refugee camp in Kenya.

CJ

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anonymousNumber 1 sounds unnatural, and number 2 sounds natural but is illogical. The structure "only infinitive" is used to represent a contrast between the expected result of the first part and the actual result in the second, for example, "He finally made it to the top of the roof only to slide down the other side." or "She called her back only to get the answering machine again." In your sentence, an iron bar would of course make a loud sound.Take my first, "He finally made it to the top of the roof only to slide down the other side." If we omit "only", it becomes "He finally made it to the top of the roof to slide down the other side." The structure "someone did X to infinitive", is used to say that someone did X for the purpose of Y, for example, "He went up the hill to fetch a pail of water." That reading is unshakeable, so your other meaning is impossible. Your original would have to be "The iron bar fell on the hard floor making a loud clanging sound."

As the subject in number 1 isn't a humanbeing, should the sentence be read as implying result, not purpose? What's more, I just got some answeres from some native English speakers that althought number 1 is not something to say in speech, it does seem to sound natural if written in a book.

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fire1As the subject in number 1 isn't a humanbeing, should the sentence be read as implying result, not purpose?

human being

That it necessarily implies purpose is a big part of what is wrong with it.

fire1What's more, I just got some answeres from some native English speakers that althought number 1 is not something to say in speech, it does seem to sound natural if written in a book.

I can't agree. The sentence is "The iron bar fell on the hard floor to make a loud clanging sound." I keep trying to twist my thinking to make that be possible, but no. Not every native speaker will be able to judge this. You have to decide who to listen to. I recommend the regulars in here as authorities, not least because they watch each other very carefully.

CalifJimHere are some typical examples of the infinitive of result with "only to". Note that the result is surprising or disappointing in some way.

So does your answer mean that it is wrong to say or write as 1 if the result isn't suprising or disappointing in some way?

fire1So does your answer mean that it is wrong to say or write as 1 if the result isn't surprising or disappointing in some way?

No, that's not what my answer means. My answer means that it is strange to write it as 2 (i.e., with only to) when the result is the expected, ordinary result.

Without only there is no signal that a contradictory or unusual result is coming up next.

I suspect that for every infinitive of result without only, there are ten with only.

CJ

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CalifJim
fire1So does your answer mean that it is wrong to say or write as 1 if the result isn't surprising or disappointing in some way?

No, that's not what my answer means. My answer means that it is strange to write it as 2 (i.e., with only to) when the result is the expected, ordinary result.

Without only there is no signal that a contradictory or unusual result is coming up next.

I suspect that for every infinitive of result without only, there are ten with only.

CJ

Then, what do you think of the first sentence?

Does the first sentence sound strange to you?

If so, could you explain why?

I have read the anonymous's answer, but it doesn't seem to give any reason why.

fire1Then, what do you think of the first sentence? Does the first sentence sound strange to you?

The iron bar fell on the hard floor to make a loud clanging sound.

It does sound a little strange. Without 'only' our first impulse is to see it as an infinitive of purpose. But then we note that an iron bar can't have a purpose, so we think it's something else. But what is it? It must be an infinitive of result.

It's a matter of having to think too hard because the content of the sentence is not expressed very artfully. A result that is completely expected and logical is usually better expressed with a participle clause:

The iron bar fell on the hard floor, making a loud clanging sound.

CJ

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