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Asked • 03/30/19

Why does "I was happy to do my homework" work, but "I was tired to do my homework" doesn't?

I'm teaching ESL, and I came across a question from one of my students that I don't know how to answer. Using the form "{subject} {verb} {adjective} {infinitive phrase}" we've been going over sentences such as "I was happy to help you." (More specifically, "I helped you. I was happy. -> I was happy to help you.") One of my students then suggested "I was tired to do my homework." Now, as a native English speaker, I know that this is wrong. I'm even college educated and actually trained in ESL (which included grammar classes)... and yet, I have no idea WHY this is wrong. It SEEMS to fit the form our textbook was teaching ("I did my homework. I was tired." -> "I was tired to do my homework.") and yet I know it's wrong. What's the difference? Why doesn't this work?

1 Expert Answer

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Casey B. answered • 04/01/19

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