to find

mimi2

Senior Member
vietnam vietnamese
Hi,
“He’s just arrived to find his wife in tears.”
Could you tell me if the usage of “to-infinitive” indicates a purpose?
If so, it is ridiculous. I am wondering why not using a conjunction “and” instead.
“He’s just arrived and see his wife in tears.”
Thank you.
 
  • Musical Chairs

    Senior Member
    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    Well, it doesn't really indicate a purpose. He didn't arrive because he wanted to find his wife in tears. I think the way it's said in your first sentence, it makes it sound like it was a little expected or understandable (in the context of whereever you found this) that his wife would be crying.

    "He just arrived and found his wife in tears" would be better if you wanted to use "and."
     

    AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi mimi

    I don't think the term to find is describing purpose. He is not trying to find something, or searching to see his wife in tears.

    The to find reveals the situation that he discovers. I could rephrase the original sentence as follows.

    He has just arrived and is presented with a situation where his wife is in tears. [The meaning should be fairly clear, even if the wording is clumsy because of my laziness.]
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    “He’s just arrived to find his wife in tears.”
    Thank you for your explanation.
    But I feel that this sentence expresses something disappointed from the subject "He". I want to understand the meaning when to find is used.
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    I agree with the previous forer@s.

    "To find" here is not an infinitive of purpose. It is not used in the same way as "He went home to find his keys." With an infinitive of purpose, you could add the words "in order to": He went home in order to find his keys. But you cannot do that in this sentence. The infinitive here could be replaced by "and found": He's just arrived and found his wife in tears.

    Your suggestion to change the sentence to "He’s just arrived and see his wife in tears" won't work because you need the same verb tense in both verbs, so you would need to write, “He’s just arrived and (has just) seen his wife in tears.”
     

    Musical Chairs

    Senior Member
    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    Somewhere else in the reading, I'd expect something that would let you know why his wife was in tears.

    If it had been "he arrived and saw his wife in tears," I'd take that to mean that it was just mentioned that his wife was in tears and wouldn't expect any explanations as to why.
     
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