Infinitives: What Is An Infinitive? Functions & Examples 1

Infinitives: What Is An Infinitive? Functions & Examples

Infinitives! What is an infinitive? Learn infinitive definition and when to use infinitives in English with useful grammar rules, video, example sentences and ESL worksheet.

What Is An Infinitive?

What is an infinitive? An infinitive is a verbal consisting of to + a verb, and it acts like a subject, direct object, subject complement, adjective, or adverb in a sentence. Infinitives are easy to identify because they’re written with to + a verb.

Infinitive examples:

To give

To run

To wait

Although an infinitive is easy to locate because of the to + verb form, deciding what function it has in a sentence can sometimes be confusing.

When to Use Infinitives?

We use the infinitive:

To indicate the purpose of an action

Infinitive examples:

He bought some flowers to give to his wife.

I will lock the door to prevent theft.

As subject of the sentence

Example:

To wait seemed foolish when decisive action was required.

To swim in that sea may be dangerous.

As direct object of the sentence

Infinitive examples:

I like to write in English.

Everyone wanted to go.

As subject complement

Example:

His ambition is to fly.

What is essential is to maintain a healthy diet.

As an adjective

Infinitive verb examples:

This is the best time to practice.

I have some jeans to wash.

As an adverb

Example:

We must carefully observe to understand.

I can’t wait to see.

After an adjective

Subject + to be + adjective + (for/of someone) + to-infinitive + (rest of sentence)

Example:

It is important to be patient.

It is wonderful to have close friends.

After an object that is a noun or pronoun referring to a person

Infinitive examples:

Can I ask you to help me with something?

I invited a friend to attend the ceremony.

Used with question word

Example:

Do you understand what to do?

Tell me when to press the button.

How to Use Infinitives with Examples | Picture

Infinitives! What is an infinitive? Learn infinitive definition and when to use infinitives in English with useful grammar rules, video, example sentences and ESL worksheet. 

Infinitive Verb List

Learn useful list of Verbs Followed by Infinitives in English with examples.

Get

       Hold on for a minute,I’ve just got to put on my makeup.

Hesitate

I hesitate to spend so much money on clothes.

Hope

I hope to see you again soon.

Hurry

We’ll have to hurry to catch the last train.

Intend

I heard they intend to marry.

Learn

Children learn to creep ere they can go.

Like

Ancient people like to have a declaration before war.

Love

Men love to hear well of themselves.

Manage

Did you manage to catch the post?

Mean

I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.

Neglect

Don’t neglect to lock the door when you leave.

Need

You need to change your eating habits.

Infinitives: What Is An Infinitive? Functions & Examples 2

Offer

She offered to help me move my things to my new house.

Plan

Next year I plan to travel around the world.

Prefer

Would you prefer to live in the country instead of a town?

Prepare

The doctor prepared to prescribe a receipt.

Pretend

She was pretending to cry. I knew she was lying.

Proceed

They will proceed to build another laboratory building.

Promise

He promised to collect her from the airport.

Propose

We propose to deal with this subject in the following chapter.

Refuse

She refused to answer questions about her personal finances.

Remember

He had remembered to bring a pair of gloves, unlike me.

Seem

I always seem to be unlucky at cards.

Start

The child started to sob when he couldn’t find his mother.

Stop

I’m working in the garden and I stop to smoke.

Struggle

He struggled to keep his footing on the slippery floor.

Swear

Do you swear to tell the whole truth?

Threaten

They threatened to ban the book.

Try

We tried to confuse the enemy.

Volunteer

They volunteer to teach introductory courses.

Wait

I can’t wait to see you.

Want

I want to watch TV.

The Bare Infinitives

The zero (bare) infinitive is a type of complement with an infinitive verb form that’s not preceded by the particle to. Also known as the bare infinitive.

Infinitives: What Is An Infinitive? Functions & Examples 3

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