One of the most difficult areas of sentence structure that consistently confounds my students is the concept of destinations.
In other words, do you end an event in a sentence, or is there a word or phrase that extends the event to an ending farther into the phrase, clause or sentence?
To clarify, here are a couple of simple examples: “I wonder.” (short destination) “I wonder how I’m going to find the time to finish this project.” (longer destination) The word how takes the sentence through a longer destination. This is also true of who, whom, what, when, where, why, and that, as well as a few other words that perform a similar function. Example: Jane didn’t understand.” (short destination) “Jane didn’t understand what was expected of her.” Now the word what leads to a longer destination.
An infinitive can also extend the destination. Example: “I went home in the afternoon.” (short destination) I went home in the afternoon to help my wife move some furniture.” (long destination) The infinitive to help extends the destination.
In all extended destination situations, never emphasize the word that immediately precedes the one that extends the destination. It would be emphasized if it were the last word in an event, but since it flows into a longer destination, it is not emphasized.
There are other parts of speech that can extend a destination. These will be discussed further in next month’s Tip of the Month.