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I hope you are all well.

He stopped to smoke.

Is to smoke a complement of stop or is it an infinitive-of-purpose adjunct?

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    To smoke is a purpose infinitive. Stop, unlike start, can take only gerund complements (He stopped smoking, he started smoking, he started to smoke), so any infinitive following it has to be an adjunct. Jun 6 '19 at 21:04
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    Yo! Do I detect a Devonian twang? Gonna give you an answer in a sec. Jun 7 '19 at 14:59
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In a comment, John Lawler wrote:

To smoke is a purpose infinitive. Stop, unlike start, can take only gerund complements (He stopped smoking, he started smoking, he started to smoke), so any infinitive following it has to be an adjunct.

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  • 'Perhaps 'He stopped to tie his shoelace' affords fewer garden-path opportunities. Feb 7 at 15:23
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As you will tell from my answers, I like to focus on readability. At the satisfaction of my readers. Always imagining that they could give me a star rating based on the enjoyment of my book or sentence.

So for me, I think you need to clarify for the reader what you're trying to say.

Are you just missing a comma? as in, "he stopped, to smoke." an infinitive-of-purpose adjunct?

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  • I'd say << He stopped, to smoke >> is less natural than << He stopped to smoke >> (and far less idiomatic than << He stopped for a cigarette >> or << He stopped for a smoke >> ). None of the examples showing purpose-infinitives at Perfect English-grammar.com, Wiktionary or by Nordquist at ThoughtCo use the comma before the to-infinitival. Feb 7 at 15:19
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IMO, "to smoke" should be a direct object of "stopped" which is derived from a noun clause "that he will/would smoke".

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  • So you are saying that to smoke was stopped by him?! How can that possibly make any sense, grammatically or otherwise? That is what saying it's the direct object necessarily leads to, but its ungrammatically disproves your premise.
    – tchrist
    Feb 7 at 14:23
  • my opinion may be a bit weird. "to smoke" there should be understood as "he will/would smoke" since any verb, whether finite or non-finite, require a subject to do it. so "to smoke" in the subject position should be read as "something (I will/would smoke) was stopped by him. is this structure (something was stopped by him) grammatically correct?
    – nova
    Feb 7 at 15:26

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