To write on the paper is flimsy.

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changwecanbelievein

Senior Member
Chinese
"To write on the paper is flimsy." Correct or not?

Example: The paper is flimsy to write on.

I rewrote that as follows:
To write on the paper is flimsy.
It's flimsy to write on the paper.

But someone told me those two forms are incorrect.

Dear native English speakers, Could you tell me whether those two forms which I have rewrote are grammatically correct or not? I'm eager for you authoritative answer. Thank you!
 
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  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "To write on the paper is flimsy." :cross: "It's flimsy to write on the paper." :cross: Neither one makes sense: both of them mean that the act of writing is flimsy. In fact, the paper is flimsy.

    If we change the punctuation, we get something meaningful: "To write on, this paper is flimsy." :tick:
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi changwecanbelievein

    I'm afraid both your sentences are wrong, for the reason given by sound shift. I also find The paper is flimsy to write on strange and awkward:(.

    You could say
    :tick:The paper is too flimsy to write on.

    But you couldn't turn this into either
    :cross:To write on the paper is too flimsy
    or
    :cross:It's too flimsy to write on the paper.
     

    changwecanbelievein

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    "To write on the paper is flimsy." :cross: "It's flimsy to write on the paper." :cross: Neither one makes sense: both of them mean that the act of writing is flimsy. In fact, the paper is flimsy.

    If we change the punctuation, we get something meaningful: "To write on, this paper is flimsy." :tick:

    Thanks for your sincere help.

    But Look at this example: The question is difficult to answer.

    Why could man rewrite that sentence as follows:
    To answer the question is difficult.
    It's difficult to answer the question.

    I'm confused. Need you help, Thanks!
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The structure of the sentence is quite different. Here, you are saying that what is difficult is the act of answering of the question. In the earlier sentence, however, you were not describing the act of writing on the paper as "flimsy"; the only thing that was flimsy was the paper -- and it would have been "flimsy" whether one were writing on it or not.
     

    changwecanbelievein

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi changwecanbelievein

    I'm afraid both your sentences are wrong, for the reason given by sound shift. I also find The paper is flimsy to write on strange and awkward:(.

    You could say
    :tick:The paper is too flimsy to write on.

    But you couldn't turn this into either
    :cross:To write on the paper is too flimsy
    or
    :cross:It's too flimsy to write on the paper.

    Thank you lovely Loob:)

    Could you tell me why this adverb "too" must be included in that sentence? I don't know the importance of "too" in that sentence. I think it's only an adverb which modifies the adjective "flimy", isn't it?

    In fact, I copied that example from a grammar book(written by a Chinese author).

    Is "too" necessary in that sentence? I want to know why. And if "too" is absolutely necessary, Could I substitute other adverb(such as "very" "quite" "much" "rather" etc.) for "too"?
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    The "too" lets us know why you are telling us this information. It means "This paper is unacceptable for writing. It is too flimsy."

    Think of a footbridge. If I say "This bridge is flimsy" I am simply expressing an opinion about the construction of the bridge. If I say "This bridge is too flimsy to walk on" I am saying that the bridge is unsafe for pedestrians. To say "This bridge is flimsy to walk on" doesn't make much sense. It's not that the bridge is only flimsy when I walk on it.

    The same is true of the paper. The paper is always flimsy. It doesn't change qualities because I start writing on it. Either "the paper is flimsy" or "the paper is too flimsy to write on" makes sense, but "the paper is flimsy to write on" sounds like the paper suddenly becomes flimsy when you write on it.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi again changwecanbelievein

    It might be worth going back a step:).

    The construction "A was adjective + to-infinitive" is used when the adjective concerns ease or difficulty.

    So
    The article was easy to read.:tick:

    But you can't use the construction when the adjective has other meanings - you can't say:
    The article was long to read.:cross:

    If you add "too", that can change the meaning so that the combination "too adjective" implies ease or (more probably) difficulty:
    The article was too long to read.:tick:
    The idea here is that the article was difficult to read because it was too long - and you therefore didn't read it.

    I hope this makes sense!:)
     
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