I was trying to identify the word classes of Hamlet's famous monologue "To be or not to be", and I'm really having trouble deciding what word class "to say" in "and by sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks" belongs to.

Is it an infinitive construction, or is it an adverb?

  • Have you tried running the sentence in question through a parser to see what analysis it produces? – tchrist Jul 23 '16 at 17:09
  • No I haven't. I'm not even sure what a parser is... >.< – CaRina Jul 23 '16 at 17:13
  • I mean the natural language processing programs that you feed text to and which produce as output various types of syntactic analyses, including part-of-speech assignment and structural linkage, sometimes even in fancy graphics. There's a list or three of such resources on our meta that you can toss this at, like the Stanford Parser tool. – tchrist Jul 23 '16 at 17:23
  • You're conflating word class and word function. To say belongs to the lexical class of verbs, and in particular it's an infinitive form. Hamlet isn't speaking in textbook sentences. He mentions three things that he thinking about -- dying, sleeping, and saying something. Are these subjects, objects, modifiers? Hard to say, but those are all functions that the infinitive might take on. – deadrat Jul 23 '16 at 17:58
  • Thank you both a lot! The parser also told me that it is a verb :) And since I used it for the first time - and was a bit suspicious of it -, I am glad deadreat confirmed the result! And thanks for pointing out the difference between function and class. I think I was working a bit to sloppy on the matter. – CaRina Jul 23 '16 at 20:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.