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Infinitive Form






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Infinitives Decoded: Definition, Description, and Usage

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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What is the Infinitive Form?

Infinitive is a type or form of verb which can be utilized as an adjective, adverb, or noun. Usually, an infinitive is created by adding “to” in front of a verb to demonstrate an action without actually performing the action. Before you proceed further, you need to understand What is infinitive form of a verb. Let’s understand: 

The infinitive form is defined as a non-finite verb or a verb in the basic form. The infinitive form of the verb cannot be utilized as the main verb, it is usually preceded by “to” for describing an action. For instance, To write, To dance, To drink, To Walk, etc. 

Characteristics and Features of Infinitive Form

The infinitive form has some characteristics and attributes to depict them clearly. Here are some of them: 

  • Every type of form of verb including phrasal verbs can be used as an infinitive form. 
  • The infinitive verb describes the action in general instead of the action being done. For instance, “I need to eat” and “Today, we ate” are two separate things that depict the action of eating. In the first sentence ” I need to eat” is an infinitive form that depict the action which is not actually done. 
  • The infinitive form is preceded by “to”, but it can also be utilized as a base form without adding “to”. 
  • The critical part of the Infinitive form is that its form never changes. You can’t utilize it with suffixes or other verbs. 

Structure and Formation of Infinitive Form

If you understand, what is infinitive form, you need to know its formation. The infinitive form is structured with verbs applied with or without “to” precedence. 

To can be used as a proposition but here it’s a part of the verb. The formation or structure of the Infinitive form is “to + Infinitive form”. 

Structure of the Infinitive Form

The infinitive form is derived from a verb in a sentence, it can be applied as noun, adverb, or adjective. To create a structure of Infinitive Form, you can use the formulas 

” Subject + verb + to + infinitive form” 

For instance, 

  • Leena wants to Go. 
  • Andrew decided to quit. 

Here, too is preceded, and Go, Quit are Infinitive forms. 

“Subject + verb + noun/pronoun + to + infinitive form” 

Infinitive form example, 

  • Jerry helped me to open the lid. 
  • Alana advised him to continue. 

Here, to be the precedence and open, continue are infinitive forms. While him and me are pronouns. 

“Subject + be + going + to + Infinitive” 

The above structure indicates an action in the future. For instance, 

  • It is going to rain. 
  • They are going to have a drink. 

Here, going to have and going to rain are infinitive forms. 

Types of Infinitives

There are different types of infinitive forms that are used in the English language. Let’s find out: 

Bare Infinitives: Bare infinitives are those which do not add “to”. Certain verbs do not need “to”, they can be used with “ can, could, would” etc. In addition, the bare infinitive can also follow other verbs like help, wait, see, watch, etc. where there is a direct object. 

For Instance, Lara should go home.

Here, go is a bare infinitive, where “to” is not added. 

Full Infinitives: Full infinitives are also known as “to-infinitives” that use “to” before using base verbs. The full infinitives are more or less used as “ Subject + Verb + to-infinitive” For instance, She needs to go out. 

Full infinitives can be used for different situations such as:

  • To show the intention or purpose of the action. For instance, “She is going to buy food.”
  • To modify the meaning of the noun. For instance, “We need a superhero to help us.”
  • After the use of adjectives. Such as “I’m happy to be here.”

Functions of the Infinitive Form

To understand better, how the Infinitive form is used, these are two functions to consider: 

Verb Complements

The Infinitive form of verbs when followed by a linking verb, acts as compliments for the subject. 

For instance, ” Her favorite hobby is to dance” 

Noun Functions

When Infinitive works in a sentence as a noun, they take different positions depending on the purpose. These positions include the subject, object, or subject complement. Though Infinitive form is hardly used as a subject. 

For instance, 

  • ” You failed to impress me” 
  • ” Ashu is learning to swim”

Here Impress and Swim are Infinitives used as objects. 

  • Painting is my hobby. 

Here, painting is the Subject. 

Examples of Infinitive Forms

To understand better, let’s check infinitive form example based on different use in the English language: 

When the infinitive form is used as a subject

  • “She discovered that her favorite hobby is to sing” Here ” Sing” is an infinitive form used as a subject. 

When the infinitive form is used as or after a direct object

  • “They want to see how things would work.” Here “See” is in the infinitive form. 

When infinitive form is used as an adjective

  • “Give him an apple to eat” Here the infinitive form is “to eat” which modifies the apple which means it is used as a function. 

When expressing obligation 

  • Lara ought to drive carefully. Here ought to is used to express obligation with an infinitive. 

Common Mistakes and Pitfalls to Avoid

When using the infinitive form, there are some common mistakes to avoid such as: 

  • Do not use two verbs together such as He went eat, it’s clearly wrong. 
  • Do not use “to” with verbs as follows: shall, feel, rather, let, may, hear, can, will feel, etc as infinitive forms. 
  • When learning the infinitive form, it’s common for everyone to fall for using “to” with most verbs. 

Here are some tips to avoid these mistakes: 

  • Make sure you use the infinitive form to depict purpose. 
  • Consider understanding the difference between full and bare infinitives.
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Key Takeaways

  1. The infinitive form is used to describe an action that is happening, done, or will be done. 

  2. The infinitive form is used with “to” as precedence to complete the sentence. 

  3. There are two types of Infinitive forms: bare infinitive and full Infinitive.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Can an infinitive be a subject or object in a sentence?

Yes! The infinitive form can be used as a subject or object in a sentence. For instance, Dancing is my hobby. Here ” Dancing” is the infinitive form used as a subject. 

Are there any exceptions to using "to" before the base form of a verb in infinitives?

Yes! Not all infinitive forms of verbs need to use “to”. They can be used as the subject or object themselves without adding “to” which is called the bare infinitive. 

Can infinitives be used in different tenses?

Yes! The infinitive form can be used in continuous infinitive, perfect infinitive, passive infinitive, and perfect continuous infinitive. 

How do I form negative infinitives?

It can be created by adding “Not” in front of any infinitive. 

What is the difference between a bare infinitive and a full infinitive?

The major difference between the bare infinitive and full infinitive is the use of “to”. Bare infinitive does not use “to” while full infinitive is used with “to”. 

How do I use infinitives after certain verbs, such as "want," "like," or "need"?

Yes! Infinitive forms can use other verbs to complete a sentence, but you need to understand not all verbs are modal verbs that can be used without “to”. 

Are there any common mistakes to avoid when using infinitives?

Do Not use two verbs together in case of bare infinitives. It’s easy to get confused with a bare and full infinitive, but not all infinitives can be used without “to”. 

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