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Infinitive Verbs: The Versatile Base Form of a Verb
Infinitive verbs are a fundamental aspect of English grammar, serving as the base form of a verb. They are formed by adding the particle "to" before the base form of the verb, such as "to go", "to eat", "to read", and so on. Infinitive verbs play various roles in sentences, expressing actions, intentions, purpose, commands, and more. Let's delve into the details of infinitive verbs, how they are formed, and their diverse usage in English.
1. Formation and Structure of Infinitive Verbs
To form an infinitive verb, simply add "to" before the base form of the verb. For regular verbs, the base form is identical to the infinitive form. For example:
However, some irregular verbs have distinct base forms, which may differ from their infinitive forms. For instance:
to be (base form: am, is, are)
to have (base form: have, has)
2. Types of Infinitive Verbs
a) Bare Infinitive Verbs
In certain sentence constructions, infinitive verbs can appear without the particle "to." These are called bare infinitive verbs. They are used after modal verbs (e.g., can, could, will, would) and certain other verbs (e.g., make, let, help). Examples:
She can swim. (Bare infinitive: "swim" without "to.")
They will go to the concert. (Bare infinitive: "go" without "to.")
Let me help you. (Bare infinitive: "help" without "to.")
b) Full Infinitive Verbs
Full infinitive verbs are the standard infinitives, formed by adding "to" before the base form of the verb. They are used in various contexts to convey different meanings and functions.
3. Using Infinitive Verbs to Express Actions in a General or Abstract Sense
Infinitive verbs are employed to express actions in a general or abstract sense, devoid of any specific subject. In such cases, the infinitive acts as a noun and can function as the subject, object, or complement of a sentence.
To swim is enjoyable. (Infinitive as the subject)
The best way to learn is to practice. (Infinitive as the complement)
4. Infinitive Verbs to Indicate a Purpose or Intention
Infinitive verbs are often used to indicate a purpose or intention behind an action. They answer the question "why?" and show the reason for a specific activity.
I went to the store to buy groceries. (Purpose: buying groceries)
5. Using Infinitive Verbs after Certain Verbs Like "Want", "Hope", and "Plan"
Certain verbs, such as "want", "hope", "plan", "expect", and "decide", are often followed by infinitive verbs to express intentions or future actions.
She hopes to become a doctor. (Intention: becoming a doctor)
They decided to travel to Europe. (Decision: traveling to Europe)
6. Infinitive Verbs as the Complement of Certain Verbs Like "Seem", "Appear", and "Pretend"
After verbs like "seem", "appear", "pretend", and "prove", infinitive verbs can act as the complement, providing additional information about the subject.
He seems to be tired. (Complement: being tired)
She pretended to understand the instructions. (Complement: understanding the instructions)
7. Using Infinitive Verbs to Express Commands or Requests
Infinitive verbs are employed to express commands, requests, or instructions in a concise and direct manner.
To close the door, please. (Command: close the door)
To avoid accidents, drive carefully. (Instruction: drive carefully)
8. Used After Adjectives to Describe a Feeling or State
Adjectives can be followed by infinitive verbs to describe a feeling or state associated with the subject of the sentence.
I am happy to see you. (Feeling: happy to see you)
She was eager to participate in the competition. (State: eager to participate)
9. Used After Adverbs of Purpose
Adverbs of purpose, such as "to", "in order to", and "so as to", are followed by infinitive verbs to indicate the reason or purpose of an action.
He ran fast to catch the bus. (Purpose: catching the bus)
She studied hard in order to pass the exam. (Purpose: passing the exam)
10. Using Infinitive Verbs as the Subject of a Sentence
Infinitive verbs can serve as the subject of a sentence, particularly when discussing general truths or actions.
To learn is essential. (Infinitive as the subject)
To travel broadens the mind. (Infinitive as the subject)
11. Infinitive Verbs in the Passive Voice
The passive voice can also be formed with infinitive verbs, where the subject of the sentence undergoes the action expressed by the infinitive.
The car needs to be fixed. (Passive voice: The car requires fixing)
12. Used in Reduced Clauses
Reduced clauses, which function like participle phrases, use the infinitive form of verbs to express the action in a concise way.
She came to visit her family. (Reduced clause: coming to visit her family)
13. With Modal Verbs to Express Possibility or Necessity
Modal verbs combined with infinitive verbs convey ideas of possibility, necessity, permission, ability, and other modalities.
You must study to pass the exam. (Necessity: studying to pass the exam)
He can speak three languages. (Ability: speaking three languages)
14. Infinitive Verbs in the Continuous Form
Infinitive verbs can also be used in continuous forms to express ongoing actions or events in the future.
She is going to be singing at the concert. (Continuous form: singing at the concert)
15. After Certain Nouns or Adjectives
Infinitive verbs can follow specific nouns or adjectives to provide additional information about the subject or object.
It is his dream to travel the world. (Noun: his dream is to travel the world)
She is excited to start her new job. (Adjective: excited to start her new job)
16. In Compound Tenses
In compound tenses, infinitive verbs can be used to indicate actions that happened before the main verb in the sentence.
He has decided to move abroad. (Past action: deciding before moving)
17. Used with "Let" to Express Permission
The verb "let" followed by an infinitive expresses permission or allowing someone to do something.
Let me help you. (Permission: allowing to help)
18. With "Ought To" to Express Obligation or Advisability
The phrase "ought to" followed by an infinitive expresses a sense of duty, obligation, or advisability.
You ought to exercise regularly. (Obligation: the duty to exercise regularly)
19. With "Had Better" to Give Advice or Warnings
The expression "had better" followed by an infinitive is used to give advice or warnings about a potential consequence.
You had better study for the test. (Advice: the advice to study for the test)
20. With "Be Going To" to Express Future Plans or Intentions
"Be going to" followed by an infinitive is used to talk about future plans or intentions.
She is going to visit her grandparents. (Future plan: the intention to visit her grandparents)
21. With "Would Like" to Express Desires or Preferences
The phrase "would like" followed by an infinitive expresses desires or preferences.
I would like to go to the beach. (Desire: the desire to go to the beach)
22. With "Used To" to Express Past Habits or Routines
"Used to" followed by an infinitive is used to talk about past habits or routines that are no longer true.
They used to play in the park every day. (Past habit: playing in the park every day)
23. Infinitive Verbs with "Dare" to Express a Challenge or an Invitation
The verb "dare" followed by an infinitive is used to express a challenge or an invitation to do something.
I dare you to jump from the diving board. (Challenge: challenging to jump)
24. In Noun Clauses
Infinitive verbs can be used in noun clauses to act as subjects, objects, or complements of sentences.
His goal is to become a successful entrepreneur. (Noun clause: to become a successful entrepreneur)
25. Infinitive Verbs with "Help" to Express Assistance
The verb "help" followed by an infinitive is used to indicate assistance or aid provided to someone.
Can you help me to clean the room? (Assistance: helping to clean the room)
26. With "Make" or "Let" to Express Causative Actions
The verbs "make" and "let" followed by an infinitive are used to express causing someone to do something.
She made him apologize for his behavior. (Causative: causing him to apologize)
27. Infinitive Verbs with "Go" or "Come" to Express Actions That are About to Happen
The verbs "go" and "come" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions that are about to happen.
I am going to leave soon. (About to happen: leaving soon)
28. With "Watch" or "See" to Express Observed Actions
The verbs "watch" and "see" followed by an infinitive are used to describe actions that are observed by the subject.
I saw her dance on the stage. (Observed action: her dancing on the stage)
29. With "Hear" or "Listen" to Express Actions That Are Perceived Through the Sense of Hearing
The verbs "hear" and "listen" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions perceived through the sense of hearing.
I heard her sing beautifully. (Perceived through hearing: her beautiful singing)
30. With "Feel" or "Touch" to Express Actions That Involve the Sense of Touch
The verbs "feel" and "touch" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions that involve the sense of touch.
I felt the ground shake. (Sense of touch: feeling the ground shake)
31. With "Taste" or "Smell" to Express Actions That Involve the Sense of Taste or Smell
The verbs "taste" and "smell" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions that involve the sense of taste or smell.
I tasted the delicious cake. (Sense of taste: tasting the delicious cake)
32. Infinitive Verbs with "Believe" or "Think" to Express Opinions or Beliefs
The verbs "believe" and "think" followed by an infinitive are used to express opinions or beliefs about a particular action.
I believe her story to be true. (Belief: her story is true)
33. With "Know" or "Realize" to Express Awareness or Recognition
The verbs "know" and "realize" followed by an infinitive are used to express awareness or recognition of a fact or situation.
They knew her to be a talented artist. (Awareness: recognizing her as a talented artist)
34. With "Expect" or "Hope" to Express Expectations or Wishes
The verbs "expect" and "hope" followed by an infinitive are used to express expectations or wishes for the future.
We hope to win the competition. (Expectation: expecting to win)
35. With "Deserve" or "Merit" to Express Actions That Are Worthy or Deserved
The verbs "deserve" and "merit" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions that are worthy or deserved.
She deserves to be praised. (Deserving: worthy of praise)
36. With "Need" or "Require" to Express Necessity
The verbs "need" and "require" followed by an infinitive are used to express necessity or requirement.
The car needs to be repaired. (Necessity: requiring repair)
37. With "Begin", "Start", or "Continue" to Express the Initiation or Continuation of Actions
The verbs "begin", "start", and "continue" followed by an infinitive are used to express the initiation or continuation of actions.
He started to write a novel. (Initiation: beginning to write)
They continued to work on the project. (Continuation: continuing to work)
38. With "Cease", "Stop", or "Refuse" to Express Actions That Are Halted or Declined
The verbs "cease", "stop", and "refuse" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions that are halted or declined.
The company refused to disclose the information. (Refusal: declining to disclose)
39. With "Decide", "Choose", or "Intend" to Express Intentions or Decisions
The verbs "decide", "choose", and "intend" followed by an infinitive are used to express intentions or decisions.
We decided to go on a trip. (Decision: deciding to go on a trip)
40. With "Wish" or "Prefer" to Express Desires or Preferences
The verbs "wish" and "prefer" followed by an infinitive are used to express desires or preferences.
I wish to travel around the world. (Desire: desiring to travel)
41. With "Try" or "Attempt" to Express Efforts or Attempts
The verbs "try" and "attempt" followed by an infinitive are used to express efforts or attempts to do something.
She tried to solve the puzzle. (Effort: attempting to solve)
42. With "Learn", "Teach", or "Study" to Express Actions Related to Acquiring Knowledge or Skills
The verbs "learn", "teach", and "study" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions related to acquiring knowledge or skills.
He learned to play the guitar. (Acquiring knowledge: learning to play)
43. With "Forget", "Remember", or "Regret" to Express Actions Related to Memory or Emotions
The verbs "forget", "remember", and "regret" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions related to memory or emotions.
She forgot to turn off the lights. (Memory: forgetting to turn off)
44. With "Finish", "Complete", or "Start" to Express Actions Related to the Completion or Initiation of Tasks
The verbs "finish", "complete", and "start" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions related to the completion or initiation of tasks.
They finished to paint the house. (Completion: finishing painting)
45. With "Help", "Aid", or "Assist" to Express Actions Related to Providing Support or Assistance
The verbs "help", "aid", and "assist" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions related to providing support or assistance.
They helped her to carry the bags. (Assistance: helping to carry)
46. With "Aim", "Strive", or "Seek" to Express Actions Related to Goals or Objectives
The verbs "aim", "strive", and "seek" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions related to goals or objectives.
We aim to improve our performance. (Goal: aiming to improve)
47. With "Pretend", "Claim", or "Seem" to Express Actions Related to Perception or Appearances
The verbs "pretend", "claim", and "seem" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions related to perception or appearances.
She seemed to be upset. (Appearance: appearing upset)
48. With "Hope", "Fear", or "Expect" to Express Actions Related to Emotions or Expectations
The verbs "hope", "fear", and "expect" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions related to emotions or expectations.
They hoped to win the competition. (Expectation: hoping to win)
49. With "Permit", "Forbid", or "Allow" to Express Actions Related to Permission or Prohibition
The verbs "permit", "forbid", and "allow" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions related to permission or prohibition.
The sign forbids to smoke. (Prohibition: forbidding smoking)
50. With "Advise", "Urge", or "Recommend" to Express Actions Related to Advice or Suggestions
The verbs "advise", "urge", and "recommend" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions related to advice or suggestions.
He advised her to take a break. (Advice: advising to take a break)
51. With "Warn", "Remind", or "Inform" to Express Actions Related to Giving Information or Alerts
The verbs "warn", "remind", and "inform" followed by an infinitive are used to express actions related to giving information or alerts.
I reminded her to call her mother. (Reminder: reminding to call)
In conclusion, infinitive verbs are a versatile and essential aspect of English grammar. They serve as the base form of verbs and are used in various structures to express actions, intentions, purpose, commands, and more. Understanding the different types of infinitive verbs and their usage can significantly enhance one's language proficiency and ability to communicate effectively in English. Whether conveying future plans, expressing desires, giving advice, or describing actions in a general sense, infinitive verbs play a crucial role in expressing ideas and intentions in diverse contexts.