Infinitive clause


I came across a question that puzzled me.  It stated, " You need to learn how to be nice."  How is the dependant clause acting in that sentence?  Is it describing the infinitive to learn?  Or is it a modifier of the the infinitive?  Any answers will be gratly appreciated.

asked Jun 08 '14 at 20:28 Jack Morais New member

1 answer


Jack, "how to be nice" can either be viewed as (1) a Noun Clause appositive renaming the infinitive "to learn", or (2) as an Adjective Clause describing the infinitive "to learn".


I leave it to you to decide whether it is (1) renaming or (2) describing; however, I would point out that it can function appositively in the place of "to learn":  "You need to be nice."


If you are confused about why those two are your options, it is because "to learn" has taken on the function of a noun.


Infinitives can function as either (1) nouns (2) adjectives or (3) adverbs.

In this case, "to learn" is the direct object of the verb "need" which means it is acting as (1) a noun.


Therefore, the dependent clause "how to be nice" is either functioning (1) as a Noun Clause to rename the infinitive "to learn" or (2) an Adjective Clause to describe the infinitive "to learn".

link comment answered Jun 22 '14 at 20:04 Aaron Prejean Expert

Your answer

Write at least 20 characters

Have a question about English grammar, style or vocabulary use? Ask now to get help from Grammarly experts for FREE.