Verb + Infinitive

Express desire or intent to do an activity

The Scream by Edvard Munch
"The Scream" by Edvard Munch
 

 

Verbs with Infinitive Complements

FULL CLAUSE

In general,  to verbs are associated with a goal, with a projected time in the future. The verb expressing a wish or hope is followed by a clause that is reduced to an infinitive clause. [The full clause is not actually used in speech or writing.]

SUBJ PRED COMP / ADJUNCT
NP V SUBORD that + CLAUSE

Ed    

needs 

[that Ed gets some help]

Ed   

hopes 

[that Ed finds some peace and quiet]

Ed   

likes 

[that Ed receives attention]

Ed   

hates 

[that Ed hears criticism from others]  

INIFINITIVE CLAUSE

An infinitive clause is a reduced clause: (1) the verb form, an infinitive, is not marked for tense, person, or number; (2) the subject is mostly omitted and understood as being the same as the subject of the main (matrix) clause.

SUBJ PRED COMPLEMENT
NP V SUBORD to + INFINITIVE CLAUSE

Ed    

needs 

[for Ed] to get some help. 

Ed   

hopes 

[for Ed] to find some peace and quiet.

Ed   

likes 

[for Ed] to receive attention.

Ed   

hates 

[for Ed] to hear criticism from others.

 

associated with – related to

criticism (n.) – negative comments

goal (n.) – objective, result, something that someone wants to achieve or do

*The subject of an infinitive clause is expressed as [for + noun] (accusative pronoun).  See Infinitive w/Subject 

(Azar 14-6) (Biber 9.4)  (Huddleston 14 §1.4) (Swan 258)   See Grammar Notes below for grammatical terms.

 

 

Verbs Followed by Infinitives  ("to" verbs)

VERBS + INFINITIVE

afford     I can afford to buy it.

continue¹   I continue to work there.

agree     I agreed to help her.

decide      I can afford to buy it.

appear  You appear to be lost.

demand   He demanded to know.

arrange  I arranged to meet them.

deserve¹  You deserve to win.

ask          I asked to go along.

desire  She desires to see you.

attempt¹ I attempted to explain.

expect  I expect to be a little late.

beg        I begged to go too.

fail   I failed to get an A.

begin¹    I began to take classes.

forget²  I forgot to call you.

can't bear   I can't bear to leave.

hate  I hate to miss your show.

can't stand¹  I can't stand to wait.

hesitate¹ I hesitate to say anything.

care        I don't care to see them.

hope  I hope to leave soon.

choose      I choose to live here.

intend¹ I intend to win the game.

claim       He claims to be smart.

learn  I learned to speak Swahili.

consent  She consented to marry him.

hope  I hope to see you soon.

MORE  VERBS + INFINITIVE

like¹ I like to swim.

regret   I regret to tell you this.

would like I'd like to go with you.

remember²   I remembered to lock it.

love¹   I love to dance.

seem   He seems to be relaxed.

manage  I'll manage to survive.

start¹   It started to snow.

mean  I didn't mean to hurt you.

struggle   I struggle to do well.

need  I need to ask them.

swear   I swear to be true.

neglect¹   I neglected to do my work.

tend   I tend to be on time.

offer   I offered to pay for it.

threaten   I hope to see you soon.

plan   I plan to leave soon.

try²   I try to help often.

prefer¹   I prefer to pay less.

use³   I used to play tennis.

pretend   I pretend to be confident.

volunteer   I volunteered to cook.

prepare   I will prepare to leave.

wait   I wanted to see the show.

promise   I promise to be on time.

want   I want to leave now.

refuse   I refuse to believe lies.

wish   I wish to go to Italy.

 

¹ This verb can be used before an infinitive or a gerund without a change in meaning  (e.g.  I began to plan my trip last week.  /   I began planning my trip last week.) 
²  See Meaning differs
³ used (a former habit) — the tense is limited to past 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bare Infinitives

Without to

 

 

 

Bare Infinitive (base form) – optional vs. not optional

BARE INFINITIVE – OPTIONAL

When the verbs dare and need are used as modals, the bare infinitive form follows. The verb help  optionally takes the bare infinitive form.                                    

SUBJ + PRED COMPLEMENT
NP + VP INFIN / BARE INFIN

We didn't dare

Dare we

to go on vacation.

    go on vacation.

Did we need

Need we

to ask permission?

     ask  permission?

They helped

to get the project done.

    get the project done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BARE INFINITIVE

Modals are followed by bare infinitive forms. (We can go.)  An expression with a similar meaning usually requires to. (We are able to go.)  See Modal Auxiliaries.

SUBJ + PRED COMPLEMENT
NP + MODAL/ VP BARE INFIN / INFIN

We can  

We are able

    go on vacation.

to go on vacation.

We should  

It would be a good idea

    take a trip.

to take a trip.

We must  

We have

    ask permission first.

to ask permission first.

We may  

We have  permission

    leave early.

to leave early.

We will  

We are going

    depart  at 6 p.m.

to depart at 6 p.m.

We would rather  

    go  at 5 p.m.

 

Also see Nonfinite Verb Form Types "plain form".

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verb + Infinitive

Negatives

shopper
 

 

Negative main verb vs. negative infinitive

NEGATIVE MAIN VERB

Use a negative verb if the speaker has no particular intention to do something.

NO PARTICULAR INTENTION ACTIVITY

I don't plan
(Either I have no plans or shopping downtown is not included in my plans.)

to shop downtown.  

I don't want 
(Buying shoes is not on my "want list".)

to buy anymore shoes. 

I don't choose 
(I am not a decision maker.  The fashionistas make this decision.)

to wear fashionable shoes. 

NEGATIVE INFINITIVE

Use a negative infinitive if the speak has a clear intention to avoid something.

INTENTION AVOIDED ACTIVITY

I plan

not to shop downtown.  
(Shopping downtown is not included in my plans.)         

I want

not to buy shoes.  
(This is my desire—no shoes!)

I choose
(I make the decision—no fashionable shoes for me.)

not to wear fashionable shoes.  

 

subtle – not easy to notice or understand unless you pay careful attention; not obvious

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verb + Infinitive

Double -ing

 

 

 

Avoiding Double –ing

DOUBLE -ING

Usually a speaker will vary the wording of a sentence that links same-form verbs. That is to say, the person will avoid using two -ing forms or two "to" forms in a series.                                            

*Justin was continuing  driving without his glasses. 

Justin continued driving without his glasses.

*Justin was starting wearing his glasses. 

Justin started wearing his glasses.

He won't dare [to] continue to refuse paying for the gas. 

She intends to try persuading him to help her [to] change her car tire. 

SWITCHING TO AN INFINITIVE

For those verbs (e.g.,attempt, begin, can't stand, continue, deserve, hesitate, intend, like, love, neglect, prefer, start) that do not change in meaning, the speaker can can switch to an  infinitive form.

Justin was continuing  to drive without his glasses.   

Justin was starting to wear his glasses   

He won't dare to continue to refuse to pay for the gas.   

She intends to try to persuade him to help her  to change her car tire.  

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.
"The double-ing constraint" (Huddleston 14 §5.6.1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advanced – Infinitive / Gerund

Meaning Differs

glasses
 

 

Infinitive vs. Gerund meaning

INFINITIVE—MEANING 1

In general,  to (infinitive) verbs are associated with a goal, with a projected time in the future while -ing (gerund) verbs are associated with what is current and actual. However, there are many variations in actual use.

Justin tried to wear his glasses all day.   (attempted)

Justin stopped to put on his glasses.   (ended activity #1 so that he could do activity #2 [putting on glasses]

Justin remembered to put on his glasses .   (didn't forget; he did put them on)

Justin forgot to put on his glasses .   (didn't put them on)

GERUND—MEANING 2

Some verbs change meaning when followed by an infinitive or gerund. The verbs below vary in meaning from the verbs on the left.

Justin tried wearing his glasses all day.   (experimented with a new method)

Justin stopped putting on his glasses.   (ended activity #1 [putting on glasses]

Justin remembered putting on his glasses.   (recalled the action)

Justin forgot putting on his glasses.   (couldn't recall the action)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

TRADITIONAL DESCRIPTION LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

In traditional grammar,  an "infinitive "phrase" is a nominal (noun) form used as (that functions as) the object of the verb.

 

In current grammar, the verb+ infinitive is a "simple" construction. The clause complements specific verbs which form a sub-category. (See list a above.) .  The understood subject of the matrix (main) clause is the same as the subject of the infinitive clause:  Ed needs (for Ed) to get some help. For more precise and complete details, see " To-infinitivals with and without a subject (1178); The clause subordinator for (Huddleston 1181); "accusative rather than nominative pronoun forms" (Huddleston 1182); "The infinitival subordinator to" (Huddleston1183); understood subjects (Huddleston 1192)  

PARSE DIAGRAM TREE DIAGRAM

Ed needs to get some help. 

Ed needs to get some help.  

 

Ed needs to get some help. 

tree diagram      

Grammatical Functions: Subject – (Subj) the agent of the action; Predicate/Predicator – (Pred) the action or change in state; Complement – Comp  –  an element required to complete the subject and predicate; Adjunct – an element not required by the verb, a modifying word, phrase, clause; Supplement – a comment in the form of a word, phrase or clause that is loosely related to the central idea of the sentence.

Lexical Categories "Parts of Speech": N – noun / pronoun; NP – noun phrase; V – verb; VP – verb phrase; Adj – adjective; AdjP – adjective phrase; Adv – adverb; AdvP – adverb phrase; P – preposition; PP – prepositional phrase; Det – determiners –  noun markers (e.g., articles, quantifiers, demonstratives, possessives); Subord – subordinator; Coord – coordinator; Interj – interjection; INF – infiniitve: GER – gerund; Nonfinite: an infinitive or gerund clause

 

 

 

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Global Warming

Global Warming
 

 

Decide how each verb is complemented (completed).

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your responses to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 1-10" button.

 

1.

2.
  (area where they live)

3.
Solar PanelsPeople are trying alternative energy sources to heat homes.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Following the "Orangutan Diet" orangutan dietcabbage

 

 

Correct or Incorrect?

  1. Select a response correct or incorrect.
  2. Compare your responses to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 11-20" button.

 

11.

12.
He planned among orangutans in a zoo for a month. 

13.

14.

15.
He began  carrots, cabbages, apples and oranges in their whole form.

16.
The animal keepers agreed no special food preparation to him. That is to say, they washed the cabbage and just chopped it in quarters.

17.
.

18.
Soon, he hated food arrive.  In contrast, his primate neighbors were delighted.

19.
Taylor had such intense stomach pain that the animal keepers didn't dare him anymore of the foods on the orangutans' diet.

20.
  commit (v.) – promise to do something 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Cooking—Bold Pairings

coffee, garlic, chocolate
 

 

Read for Errors

When learning how to cook, ninety per cent of the people fail learn what to cook or cook something really well.  A true chef has to know how to examine, to feel and smell food. Every young chef, hoping to create, perfect, and to present a special signature dish, begins by experimenting with strange combinations.

Chocolate and pepper, onions and papaya, strawberries and truffles—bold pairings of ingredients tend to struggle persuading us to accept them as complementary. To seek that perfect combination of flavors is daunting; it is sheer joy finding it.

bold pairing (expression) – a very unexpected combination of ingredients such as garlic and chocolate

complementary (adj.) – things that are different but go well together

daunting (adj.) – frightening in a way that makes you feel less confident

perfect (v.) – to make perfect (adj.) , excellent

pairing (n.) – putting two items together

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your responses to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 21-30" button.

 

21.
When learning how to cook, ninety per cent of the people fail learn what to cook or cook something really well.


22.
A true chef has to know how to examine, to feel and smell food.


23.
Every young chef, hoping to create, perfect, and to present a special signature dish, begins by experimenting with strange combinations.
perfect (v.) – to make perfect (adj.) , excellent


24.
Chocolate and pepper, onions and papaya, strawberries and truffles—bold pairings of ingredients tend to struggle persuading us to accept them as complementary.


25.
To seek that perfect combination of flavors is daunting; it is sheer joy finding it.
daunting (adj.) – frightening in a way that makes you feel less confident