Infinitive in English
2 infinitive types:
- bare infinitive as a pure verb stem
I must go.
- full infinitive (to-infinitive) after the particle to.
Bare infinitives go after
They may arrive soon.
- the auxiliaries do/did
Did you pass the exam?
Let’s go out tonight.
- make + (pro)noun object
He made me come here.
- would rather
I’d rather not stay out late tonight.
- Why not…?
Why not phone me tomorrow?
- – perception verbs (forget, learn, teach, train, choose, expect, hope, need, offer, want, would like, agree, encourage, pretend, promise, allow, can(‘t) afford, decide, manage, mean, refuse)
I didn’t hear you come in.
- help (sometimes)
Can you help me (to) open this?
6 infinitive forms:
- simple infinitive
- continuous infinitive
to be writing
- perfect infinitive
to have written
- perfect continuous infinitive
to have been writing
- passive infinitive
to be written
- passive perfect infinitive
to have been written
An infinitive phrase is infinitive + complements/modifiers (objects).
He helped write the plan. [nominal modifier]
She was looking for a way to earn money. [adjectival modifier]
He shouted to get our attention. [adverbial modifier]
Infinitives are often used in anticipatory it phrases like it’s necessary/important/easy + infinitive.
It’s useless to ask him about it.
Infinitives are used after
My 1st thought was to phone you.
- be + adjective + of + (pro)noun
It’s kind of you to help me.
- the first/second/last/only/best (and other superlative adjectives) + noun/one
He was the only one to die.
- feeling adjectives (disappointed, glad, happy, pleased, relieved, sad, surprised)
I was happy to meet them.
- too + adjective
The water was too cold to swim in.
- adjective + enough
She is rich enough to buy two.
- complex constructions (complex subjects, complex objects)
I know him to be an honest man.
- verb + inverted question word
I don’t know what to do.
Infinitives may act as:
To do this is practically impossible.
Their task was to reach the city before dark.
- compound verbal predicates
He began to do it immediately.
I didn’t mean to disturb you.
He isn’t a man to trifle with.
- adverbial modifiers
He came to support us.