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...thinking it to be in the green box when it is really in the yellow box.

The to be does seem to suggest that the green box does not actually contain it. Is to be, as used in the quotation, a subjunctive construction? If it is, then is that construction the most appropriate subjunctive construction; why or why not?

Thank you.

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  • It's the author's choice, since think may take either an infinitive or a tensed complement clause. They mean the same thing. Jun 23 '14 at 23:25
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    To be is here infinitive, not subjunctive. Using this option allows the writer to avoid picking a tense, between "is" and "was," for the counterfactual belief. Between condition contrary to fact and presumably reported thought (which grammatically resembles reported speech), your author may have tied herself a kind of grammatical Gordian Knot, and this is an easy way to cut it. (I'd know more were there more context given.) Jun 23 '14 at 23:31
  • @JohnLawler in the question you linked to, you commented "Grammar is not about words following words; grammar is about constituents, mostly clauses. Get that right and the rest will follow." I've been meaning to ask if you could recommend a book that describes the constituents (or at least one system of them).
    – Hal
    Jun 23 '14 at 23:37
  • I doubt it's a "duplicate", FF. But there's certainly more discussion in the comments. As for references, @Hal, I'd recommend McCawley 1998. Jun 24 '14 at 3:04

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