Infinitives for intermediate learners
Infinitives are used in many structures, especially after catenative verbs. Follow the article to learn them.
What Are Infinitives?
Infinitives are verbals that are used to show ideas, goals, and purposes. We will learn all about them in this lesson.
Types of Infinitives
We have two major types of infinitives in English. Take a look at the following list:
Now, let us examine how each group works:
To-infinitives (also referred to as full infinitives) are shaped by adding 'to' to the base form of the verb. Infinitives are mainly used to make infinitive phrases and clauses. Take a look at the following examples:
They were told
As it was stated above, infinitives are generally used to form infinitive phrases and clauses. These phrases/clauses can function as the subject, the object of the verb, the object of a preposition and etc. Below is a list of three important functions 'to-infinitives' perform:
- As a Noun
- As an Adverb
- As an Adjective
Now, let us see how each group functions:
As a Noun
Infinitives can act as nouns in the sentence. So, they can be the subject, the object of the verb or the object of a preposition. Study the following examples carefully:
Here, the infinitive is used as the subject.
She doesn't like
Here, the infinitive is the direct object of the verb.
He left me with no choice but
Here, the infinitive is the object of preposition.
As an Adverb
We can use infinitives to make adverbs. They are used to describe and modify verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. Take a look at the following examples:
I clean my room
The professor chose your group
As an Adjective
We can also use infinitives to form adjectives. They are mainly used to describe nouns. Take a look at the following examples:
That is a movie
She is a person
It is useful to know that we can use infinitive phrases after adjectives in a sentence. Please note that the infinitive phrase does not come directly after the adjective. Study the following example carefully:
It is kind of you
Bare infinitives are those that do not need 'to'. They are also called 'infinitives without 'to'. Some verbs are used with bare infinitives. Study the following examples:
My sister helped me
As you can see, the base form of the verb is used without 'to'.
Fred let me
We can use bare infinitives when we have:
Now, we are going to analyze how modals can be used with 'bare infinitives':
When we have modal verbs, we can only use bare infinitives after them. Study the following examples:
The professor may
(Not the professor may
I think I can
(Not I think I can
It might be useful to know that bare infinitives can be used after 'why'. It is mostly used to suggest an idea. Check out the following examples: