About infinitives


Source (Golden Compass)

"They're making too much noise to hear from the kitchen," Lyra whispered back.

What is author's intention of using "to hear from the kitchen"?

People usually keep calm to hear something rather than making noise to hear?

Isn't it a bit awkward?

Amirhosein Rajabi

Posted 2016-11-15T15:20:05.373

Reputation: 65



The infinitival to hear from the kitchen is not an adverbial of purpose, explaining why they make noise; it is the 'indirect complement' in the construction too X to VERB. (It's called 'indirect' because the adjectival or qualified nominal intervenes between too and to.) The infinitival tells what action cannot be performed because of the excess expressed by the phrase with too; if an explicit subject is not provided, it is taken to be the subject of the main clause.

I am too tired to think clearly. =I am so tired that I cannot think clearly.

He is too polite a gentleman to tell her she's wrong. =He is so polite a gentleman that he will not tell her she's wrong.

You may paraphrase

They are making so much noise that they cannot hear [the bell] from the kitchen.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2016-11-15T15:20:05.373

Reputation: 176 469