InfinitivesVerbals

Infinitives

What are infinitives?


An INFINITIVE is a VERBAL

  • It is a verb that functions as an adjective, noun, or adverb
  • It is formed by placing TO before the BASE VERB

Examples:

  • TO SWIM: I want TO SWIM in the ocean.
  • TO EAT: Is there any food TO EAT?

A BARE INFINITIVE

  • Is formed without TO
  • Is used with modals (must, have to, ought to, should, could, would, will, might, may, can)
  • Is used after some verbs: make, let, hear, see

Examples:

  • The children should SWIM in the lake every day.
  • We ought to EAT breakfast every morning.
  • They will ATTEND the meeting.
  • I make them GO to school.
  • He let them READ the report.
  • She heard the the dog BARK

Infinitive or gerund?

Some verbs are followed by the infinitive.

  • I decided to swim. We cannot say I decided swimming. We use the infinitive.

Some verbs are followed by the gerund.

  • I enjoy reading. We cannot say I enjoy to read. We use the gerund.
  • Some verbs can be followed by the gerund OR the infinitive.
    • I like swimming. I like to swim. We can use the gerund OR the infinitive.

When must we use infinitive?

(to + verb)

  • After certain VERBS
    • They decided to buy a new house.
    • She expects to hear from you soon.
  • After many ADJECTIVES
    • We are happy to be here.
    • I am proud to announce the birth of our daughter.
  • To show PURPOSE
    • Lorne and Takashi came to study English.
    • He left early to avoid traffic.
  • After VERBS of thinking and feeling

    • choose: We choose to stay home.
    • decide: I decided to learn Spanish.
    • expect: They expect to arrive by three o’clock.
    • hope: She hopes to get a promotion.
    • intend: Lara intended to call me, but forgot.
    • learn: The children learned to ski when they were five years old.
    • mean: I am sorry. I meant to tell you about the meeting.
    • prefer: Emma and Matt would prefer to attend a concert than watch a movie.
    • would like: I would like to go to New Zealand.
    • would love: They would love to join us for dinner.
  • After VERBS of saying
    • agree: The students agreed to do their homework.
    • promise: We promised to invite our friends to dinner next Saturday.
    • refuse: They refuse to get a new dog.
  • After some commonly used VERBS
    • arrange: We arranged to meet in Milan.
    • attempt: They attempted to ski.
    • fail: I fail to understand.
    • manage: He managed to arrive on time.
    • tend: I tend to watch science fiction movies.
    • want: She really wants to travel around the world.

When must we use the bare infinitive?

(verb without to)

  • After MODAL auxiliaries

    • If you leave now, you should arrive by 10 o’clock.
    • He can try again tomorrow.
    • You must study more!
    • We could invite her to the party.
    • I would play with the dog, but I am cooking dinner.
  • After MAKE, LET, and HELP
    • We made her go to school today.
    • My parents let us watch a movie last night.
    • My daughter helped me bake a cake.
    • We have to make it happen.
    • Please let them sleep. They are tired.
    • They helped build a house.
  • After expressions with WHY
    • Why go out when we can stay home and watch a movie?
    • I have been studying English for months. Why stop now?
    • Why pay money for something I don’t need?

REMEMBER! Some verbs can be followed by the gerund OR the infinitive.

  • I like swimming. I like to swim.
  • I continued to work on my project. I continued working on my project.

Tip: Sometimes the meaning changes!

  • I stopped listening to the radio. I am not listening to the radio anymore.
  • I stopped to listen to the radio. I am listening to the radio now. I stopped what I was doing and now I am listening to the radio.
  • I forgot to tell you about the new TV show. I did not tell you about the new TV show. I forgot to tell you. I did not remember to tell you.
  • I forgot telling you about the new TV show. I told you about the new TV show. I forgot that I told you.
  • I remembered to tell you about the party. I told you about the party. I remembered to tell you. I did not forget to tell you.
  • I remember telling you about the party. I told you about the party. I remember that I told you about the party.

There are many ways to use infinitives and gerunds. Visit gerunds for more details.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

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