The elderly are <too apt to forget>.

grammar-in-use

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello everyone,

I'm thinking of the syntax of the pattern "too adj. to do", as in:
(1). The tea is too hot to drink.
(2). The elderly are too apt to forget.

I'd think the two sentences are different in their intrinsic syntax although they share the seemingly identical "too adj. to do" construction.
In (1), "to drink" modifies "too hot" rather than "hot", whereas in (2), "to forget" modifies "apt" rather than "too apt". Simply put, their intrinsic syntax is ...{too hot (to drink)} and ...{too (apt to forget)}.
Am I correct?

I would really appreciate any insights into it
 
  • grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    (1). The tea is too (adverb) hot (adjective) to drink (infinitive phrase).
    (2). The elderly are too (adverb) apt (adjective) to forget.(infinitive phrase)
    Are they exactly the same syntax?
    But you know, they have different interpretations - the first sentence means "The tea is so hot that we can't drink it", but the second does not mean "The elderly are so apt that they can't forget".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    (1). The tea is too (adverb) hot (adjective) to drink (infinitive phrase modifying “hot” adverbially).
    (2). The elderly are too (adverb) apt (adjective) to forget.(infinitive phrase modifying “apt” adverbially).

    The first seems to imply “in order to drink [it]” or “to be drunk” but, however it is understood, it remains an infinitive phrase acting adverbially.

    See also Infinitive Phrase | What Is an Infinitive Phrase?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Some syntactic differences:

    An explicit (and arbitrary) subject can be given to 'drink': The tea is too hot for me to drink. Not possible in (2).

    An arbitrary object can be given to 'forget': The elderly are apt to forget their keys. If an object is added to (1) it can only be co-referential: The tea is too hot (for me) to drink it.

    'Too' is inessential in (2), but part of the construction in (1): The elderly are apt to forget (things).
     
    Last edited:

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    'Too' is inessential in (2), but part of the construction in (1): The elderly are apt to forget (things).
    Exactly!
    I'm thinking of what in "too adj. to do" causes it to have different interpretations - for example, He is too sick to walk. VS He is too ready to help. Which means He can't walk VS He does help, respectively.
    The adjectives (hot/sick VS apt/ready) modified by too seem to be the key. What do you think?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Perhaps the most noticeable thing about those two examples is that one allows a passive version, but the other (where the subject can be the agent of an action) does not:

    The tea is too hot … [for me] to drink [it] / to be drunk.
    It’s too late … [for you] to call your grandma / for your grandma to be called.
    The shelf is too high … [for her] to reach [it] / to be reached.

    Old people are … too {apt to forget}.
    The boy is … too lazy … to do any work.
    No one is … too old to learn.
     

    grammar-in-use

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The tea is too hot … [for me] to drink [it] / to be drunk.
    Thank you, LB!
    After reading your comments, two questions have come to mind.
    The first question is about the presence or absence of "it":
    (1). The tea is too hot to drink. ( :tick: )
    (2). The tea is too hot to drink it. :cross: ?
    (3). The tea is too hot for me to drink it.:tick:
    (4). The tea is too hot for me to drink. :thumbsdown: or :cross: ?

    The second question is about "to do or to be done":
    (5). The tea is too hot to be drunk. :tick:
    (6). First love and first kiss are never too easy to forget. :tick: ?
    (7). First love and first kiss are never too easy to be forgotten. :thumbsdown: or :cross: ?

    Am I correct in marking them right or wrong?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The it is optional. There’s no good reason to add it, but you could if you felt the need.

    Your examples 6 and 7 are not really relevant. They have nothing to do with “too”.
     
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