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The Rise of the To-Infinitive$
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Bettelou Los

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199274765

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274765.001.0001

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The expression of purpose in Old English

The expression of purpose in Old English

(p.27) 2 The expression of purpose in Old English
The Rise of the To-Infinitive

Bettelou Los (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the earliest syntactic function of the to-infinitive: that of purpose adjunct, as in Present-day English, I left early to catch the train. Data from Gothic and Old English show that this function could be encoded by three expressions: the du- or to-infinitive, the du- or to-prepositional phrase, and the subjunctive clause introduced by ei in Gothic and by þæt in Old English. It has been claimed in the literature that the bare infinitive could also express purpose in Old English, but a closer look at the data shows that these infinitives occur after verbs of motion and rest, and are parallel to the present participles in Present-day English, he came running, he sat thinking. Such bare infinitives do not express purpose by simultaneity.

Keywords:   bare infinitive, category change, purpose adjunct, prepositional phrase, Gothic, verbs of motion, verbs of rest, Old English syntax, Middle English syntax

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