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Postmodification by nonfinite clauses

 Postmodification by –ing participle Cl
- correspondence between –ing Cl and relative Cl only when the subject of the relative Cl is a
relative pronoun ; in other words “ the relativizer should function as subject” ( Stoevski) . A
nonfinite -ing cl can be interpreted as equivalent to a relative cl according to context :

The person whowill write/will be writing/writes/ is writing/wrote/was writing reports is my colleague.
The person writing reports is my colleague.

- -ing forms in postmodifying cl should not be interpreted as abbreviated forms of
progressive aspect in relative cl:
A tile falling from the roof shattered into fragments at his feet. = which fell
Even though we have a sequence of events we have a progressive aspect (Stoevski)

- in - ing participle form can appear stative verbs, which cannot be used in the progressive in
finite cl:
This is a liquid with taste resembling that of soapy water.= which resembles; not is resembling

- neutralization of aspect contrast:
the man who works/is working behind the desk = the man working behind the desk

- perfective aspect cannot be usually expressed in the nonfinite cl:
The man who has won the race is my brother. The man having won the race is my brother.
o Perfective aspect is more acceptable in structures that have an indefinite
noun phrase as head:
Any person or persons having witnessed the attack is under suspicion.

- the tense attributed to the to the –ing cl can be either of the finite cl in which the NP occurs
or can be inferred from context :
Did you know the man talking to my sister? = who was talking
- ing participles may occur in some frozen expressions with no relative cl alternative:
for the time being
 Postmodification by –ed participle cl
- correspondence only with relative cl which have a relative pronoun as subject
Pm of a NP
-ing participle Cl
-edparticiple Cl
-infinitive Cl


- interpreted according to the context as equivalent to one of the finite cl:
The car being repaired by the mechanic now
The car repaired by the mechanic when it breaks down
The can repaired by the mechanic before he left

- constraints on aspectual expression ; progressive contrast possible with –ed cl :
The food which was/has been/ is being eaten was meant for tomorrow.
The food eaten/ being eatenwas meant for tomorrow.

- ! There is no correspondence of –ed participles with relative cl in which the verb is
intransitive (no passive !) :
The train which has arrived at platform 1. = The train arrived at platform 1 .
o Possible when the –ed participle is preceded by certain adverbs:
The train recently arrived at platform 1is from NY.

Comparison b/n –ing and –ed cl
-ing cl -ed cl
 linked with the active  linked with the passive
 the antecedent identical with the
implied subject
 correspondence with cl having a
relative pronoun as subject
 the antecedent identical with the
implied subject
 correspondence with cl having a
relative pronoun as subject
 Cannot indicate progressive aspect  Can indicate progressive aspect
 Usually no perfective aspect  Usually no perfective aspect

 Postmodification by infinitive clause
- Correspond with relative cl where the relative pronoun can be a subject, an object, an
adverbial and a complement( to a certain extent):
Subj: The man to help you is Mr J = who can help you
Obj: The man for you to see is Mr J = whom you should see
Compl: The thing for you to be these days is a strip dancer = the thing that people will try to be these days is a
strip dancer (pseudo-cleft)
Adv: The time for you to go is July. = at which you should go

- inf cl are syntactically flexible and allow different degrees of reduction:
a place at which to stay/ at which you should stay/ for you to stay/ to stay/ to stay at

- functional ambiguity may arise in cases when : 1. the subject is not expresses by for…to…
and 2. The verb can be used both transitively and intransitively. In such cases not only tense
but also mood is a variable factor.Different interpretations possible :


He is the best man to choose. = He is the best man?to do the choosing /to make the choice / that we can
choose/ for us to choose/ to bechosen by us.

- aspect is less restrained with inf cl :
The man to meet/ to be meeting/ to have met.

- the postmodifyinginf cl can be in active and passive in different cases:
 only active sounds natural :
I’ve got letters to write./to be written
 active and passive equally possible:
Give me a list of the people to invite/ to be invited.
 both acceptable with the pattern there + be + NP + to inf cl :
There is no time to lose/ to be lost.
 active only when the subject is introduced by for :
The man for you to consult/ for you to be consulted .
 active when the head is a quantifier ( passive sounds plausible) :
We have a lot to do/ to be done.
 no voice restriction with existential there construction and a quantifier :
There is plenty to do/ to be done.
 Postmodifying to-infinitive clauses can have modal or nonmodal sense.
o If the antecedent corresponds to the object of the infinitive, the modal
interpretation is the only possible one:

The thing to do is . . . ['The thing we should do is. . .': not = 'The thing we do is . . .'or 'The thing we are going to
do is…’

o If the antecedent corresponds to the subject of the infinitive the
interpretation may be nonrnodal, if the antecedent has a 'restrictive' marker
such as last and the infinitive is equivalent to a relative clause:

They were the last guests to arrive. ['They were the last guests who arrived.']

 Blurred relationships in postmodification
Infinitive clauses allow us to blur or neutralize the distinction between noun-phrase postmodification
and other types of construction:
a man hidden behind the bushes.
I noticed a man who was hidden behind the bushes.
that a man was hidden behind the bushes.



He was warned by the fact that a light flashed repeatedly.
a light that flashed repeatedly.

 The infinitive cl appears in similar merged constructions but with additional
She expects somebody to repair the TV set.
She expects somebody who will repair the TV set. ( not only noun-phrase postmodification).
She expects that somebody will repair the TV set. (Nonfinite clause corresponding to a finite).
She expects somebody in order to repair the TV set. (Adverbial clause 1)
She expects somebody in order that she can repair the TV set. (Adverbial clause 2)
She expects somebody to help her repair the TV set.
 The possibility of postmodifying the head is important in expanding the sentence into more
explicit one:
She expects Jonathan to repair the TV set.*She expects Jonathan who will repair the TV set.
 Reducing the nonfinite form without perceptible change or loss of meaning:

She has somebody who checks the TV set regularly.
(to) check the TV set regularly.

 Nonrestrictive postmodification by nonfinite clauses.
The apple tree, swaying gently in the breeze, was a remainder of old times [which was swaying gently
in the breeze].

Nonrestrictive -ing and –ed clauses only correspond to relative clauses where the relative pronoun is
subject. But also infinitive clauses uses have this constraint when they are nonrestrictive:
*This scholar, to find…

 Appositive postmodification by infinitive and -ing clauses
Appositive postmodification by nonfinite clause occurs with infinitive and-ing clauses; -ed clauses
cannot enter into appositive postmodification.
A common feature of infinitive clauses, applying to restrictive andnonrestrictive alike, is that they
leave the subject of the infinitive clause tobe inferred from the context, unless there is a
prepositionallyintroduced subject, as in [la] and [2a]:
The appeal to us/for usto give blood received strong support.(1a)


This last appeal to us/for us to come and visit him, was never sent. (2a)
 The -ing clause functions as appositive postmodification in examples like:
I'm looking for a job driving cars. ['a job as a driver'l.
 The typical postmodifying function of -ing clauses is a complement of apreposition (the job of
driving cars).
 In appositive structures, -ing clauses have prepositions which are absent in the corresponding
finite clauses: the hope of winning/that X will win=X hopes that X will win.
 Constructions with to-infinitive or of-phrase - Appositive postmodification by means of an
infinitive cl [l] may haveno corresponding finite clause as apposition [I b], but instead an
alternativeconstruction with a prepositional phrase [la]:
He lost the ability to use his hands/of using his hands/that he could use his hands.
However, the choice between to + infinitive clause and preposition (usuallyof) + -ing clause as noun
postmodification is also strictly limited. We maydistinguish three main types of construction:
1. To-infinitive only:Anna has the will to win/of winning.
2. Either to-inf or of +-ing: Their chance to go/of going abroad was lost.
3. Of+-ingonly: She found the risk to lose/of losing money too great.

The 1
type is found after those nouns which express modal meanings that involve
human control over events, eg:
agreement, decision ,determination,disinclination, inclination, invitation,proposal, readiness,
refusal,resolution, (un)willingness ,will
We may distinguish :
 1
type where the constituent expressing modalityand the following verb share the
implied subject.
Anna wants to do the job. Anna’s willingness to do the job.
 The 2
type is found after nouns where the constituent expressing modality and the
verb after this have different subjects, as in:
Her father permitted her todo the job.vs Her father’s permission to do/of doing the job.
 The 3
typeclause seems to occur chiefly after nouns expressingextrinsic modality,
ie after nouns whose meanings do not primarily involvehuman control of the action
itself, but typically involve human judgnient, eg:
hope, possibility, prospect, risk.


It is probable that Anna will do the job
- theprobability of(Anna('s)) doing/for Anna to do the job.
In the 2
type there is variation between the two kinds of construction, butcertain nouns tend to have
predominantly postmodification by to-infinitive,such as:
chance, freedom, need, obligation, opportunity, plan, power;
These are examples of nouns that have predominantly of + -ingconstruction:
aim, impossibility, necessity, intention, responsibility;
 One reason for the choice among the two alternatives may be found in thecontrast between
root and epistemic possibility, as in:
The possibility for man to coexist with man is slight.( It is possible for man to coexist. . .'with subject introduced byfor; root
 The construction with to-infinitive is especiallysuitable for cases where thesubject of the
infinitive is expressed.
Ex.: Such schemes leave the worker some freedom/some freedom for the worker to regulate the relationship
between effort and reward.
 The construction with of+-ing clause is especially convenient when noexpressedsubject is
present or implicit (generalizing function):
The freedom of holding an opinion and expressing it is a human right.