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Hello, Grammar Exchange members!

1. To quote the first Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon’s mission statement: “We dance for those who can’t.”                                                    (source: https://www.uadm.org/our-mission)

I've run into the sentence above while surfing the Internet and been wondering why the part before colon ("To quote ~ statement") is not a sentence. I think it should be a sentence. I don't know what the function of to-infinitive ("To quote") is in the sentence above.

Please solve this problem that I have.

Thanks in advance

-KDog

Original Post

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Hi, KDog—A colon is often used before a direct quotation, especially a longer quotation, as an alternative to a comma. In your example, the colon is fine, but it could be replaced with a comma.

The infinitival phrase ("To quote the first Children's Miracle Network Dance Marathon's mission statement") is a nonfinite comment clause functioning as a special type of adverbial, which one major grammar calls a "disjunct."

How does the infinitival phrase relate to the quote? It doesn't answer any of the questions normal adverbials answer (When?, Where?, Why?, etc.). Instead, it signals to the reader that the writer/speaker is about to give a direct quotation.

On the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), there are 455 sentences that begin "To quote . . . ,". Such comment clauses can, however, also appear in the middle or at the end of a sentence.

  • To quote FDR, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
  • "The only thing we have to fear," to quote FDR, "is fear itself."
  • "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," to quote FDR.
Last edited by David, Moderator

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