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Monday, October 10

The 2-o

The 2 is an infinitive, that basic form of the verb preceded by its signal word “to.” Mnemonically, it consists of two words, one of which is a homonym, to/two. Don’t mistake this “to” for the word I’m calling a 1. They’re two different words. The 2 can, like any other verb form, have an object, or it can be modified by 1-o’s and adverbs and adverb s-v-o’s. It’s used as a noun, adjective, or adverb. It can even be part of a main verb, but then I don’t consider it a 2 anymore.

First the patterns, then the sentences that go with them:

Most often, the 2 is really pretty simple, although, as in much of English sentence structure, it can be a little sticky at times. Sometimes it can “lose” its signal “to” but like other understood words in a sentence, it’s really still there. This happens most often when the 2 is dragging along its own subject, in a kind of verbal noun clause. For example, “We watched him steal the diamond bracelet.” The entire thing we watched was “him steal the diamond bracelet.” And that word group, acting like the noun object of watched, is an s - 2 - o, with the sign of the 2 understood, “him (to) steal the bracelet.” Notice, in a similar sentence, how the “to” shows up again: “We wanted him to steal the diamond bracelet.” It all depends on the nature of the main V.

Okay, enough for the 2 and all its little idioticsyncrasies. Keep your eyes peeled for examples in magazines and newspapers, and even in your own writing. And I’ll see you tomorrow to thrill you with the characteristics of the 3. Whoopie.

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