Question word + infinitive as object

May 2, 2011pdf

A question word + infinitive can serve as the object of a verb. Study the following sentences.

  • I don’t know what to do. (Here the structure ‘what to do’ is the object of the verb know.)
  • We must find out what to do next.
  • I don’t know where to turn for help.
  • Let us decide when to start.
  • We will have to find out how to reach the place.
  • We must remember where to turn off the main road.
  • Do you know what to look for?
  • I will show you how to manage it.
  • Could you tell me where to find a good hotel?
  • Somebody should teach you how to behave.

Note that a question word + infinitive cannot stand alone. We cannot say ‘what to do’. Instead we must say: ‘What shall we do?’ or ‘What is to be done?’

The question word + infinitive structure can be changed into a noun clause.

  • I don’t know what to do means I don’t know what I should do.
  • I don’t know where to turn for help means I don’t know where I should turn for help.

 

Exercise

Change the question word + infinitive structure in the following sentences into noun clauses.

1. A good dictionary tells you how to pronounce the words.
2. I will show you how to do it.
3. Could you tell me where to find a good hotel?

Answers
1. A good dictionary tells you how you should pronounce the words.
2. I will show you how you can do it.
3. Could you tell me where I can find a good hotel?

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