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5 The Infinitive



1. Double nature nominal and verbal

Tense and aspect distinctions

Without participle to

Functions of the Inf

Inf. constructions

(A) Objective-with-the-Infinitive

(B) Subjective Inf. Constr

(C) The For-to-Infinitive Construction


Inf. has a double nature nominal and verbal (Inf. Developed from the verbal noun which became verbalized but retained some nominal properties.

1. The nominal character of the Inf. Is manifested in its syntactic functions. The Inf. Can be used: as the subject - To go on like this was dangerous.

As an object I have never learnt to read or to write.

2. The verbal characteristics are as follows: (a) The Inf. Of transitive verbs can take a direct object he began to feel some curiosity. (b) The Inf. can be modified by an adverb He cannot write so quickly. (c) The Inf. has tense and aspect distinctions. The Inf. of transitive verbs has also voice distinctions.


Tense and aspect distinctions. The Indefinite Inf. expresses an action simultaneous with the action expressed by the finite verb, so it may refer to the present, past or future. I am/was/will be very glad to meet you.

The Continuous Inf. also expresses an action simultaneous with the action expressed by the finite verb, but it is an action in progress (tense and aspect). They happened to be standing there.

The Perfect Inf. denotes an action prior to the action expressed by the Inf. Im glad to have seen you!

After such verbs as to mean, to expect, to intend, to hope used in Past Indefinite, the Perfect Inf. shows that the hope or intention was not carried out. I meant to have gone there. The same meaning can be conveyed by past perfect of the finite verb followed by the indefinite infinitive I had meant to go there.

The Perfect Continuous Inf. denotes an action, which lasted a certain time before the action of the finite verb (tense and aspect) For about ten days we seemed to have been living on nothing but cold meat.

Voice distinctions. The Inf. of transitive verbs has special forms for the Active and Passive voice: It is so glorious to love and to be loved.

In the sentences with the construction There is the inf. of some verbs can be active or passive without any change in the meaning: Theres no time to lose (to be lost).


Without participle to: 1 After auxiliary verbs (I dont understand the meaning). 2 After modal verbs (except ought) (one must love what one has). 3 After sense perception verbs (I felt my heart jump), 4 After to let (Let us be the best friends in the world). 5 After to make and to have () (What makes you think so?). 6 after to know (= to see) (I have often known a change of medicine work wonders). 7 After to bid (I bowed and waited thinking she would bid me take a seat). 8 After expressions had better, would rather, would sooner, cannot but, nothing but, cannot choose but. (I cannot think but so). 9 Special type of sent. beginning with why (Why not come and talk to her?)


Functions of the Inf. The Inf. can be used in different syntactic functions.

1. Subject. It is useless to discuss the question (introductory it, infinitive phrase).

2. Predicative. My intention is to get into parliament.

Part of a predicate: The house of Mrs. Betsy was not easy to find.

3. Part of a compound verbal predicate. With modal verbs: The train was to leave at midnight. With verbs, denoting beginning, duration & end: Before daylight it started to dazzle.

4. Object: Leila had learned to dance at school.

I found it impossible to leave(intr. It).

5. Part of a complex object: I never saw you act this way before.

6. Attribute: She is not a woman to suffer in silence. Ive got my family to look after (obligation). That is a nice book to read before going to bed (idea of purpose).

7. Adverbial modifier:

(a) purpose (sometimes introduced by in order, as so) : Laws were not made to be broken.

(b) Result: I was too busy to see anyone.

(c) Comparison (manner): She moved her hand as if to stop him.

(d) Attendant circumstances: She was driven away never to return again.

8. Parenthesis: to cut a long story short, to say the least of it



Inf. constructions.

Objective-with-the-Infinitive construction is a construction in which the infinitive is in predicate relation to a noun in the common case or a pronoun in the object case. Function in the sent. is a complex obj.

Used after a group of verbs: sense perception (I heard him sing), mental activity (We expect her to marry Ben), verbs of declaring (The surgeon pronounced the wound to be a slight one), wish and intention (I want you to come), feeling and emotion (I hate you to talk like this), order and permission (I ordered his carriage to be ready by 5), compulsion (The noise caused her to awake).


Subjective Inf. Constr. The inf. is in predicate relation to a noun in the common case or a pronoun in the nominative case. One part is a subject, another - part of a compound verbal predicate.

Used after a group of verbs: sense perception (he was heard to laugh), mental activity (He was thought to be honest and kindly), with to make (he was made to eat the porridge), to say and to report (Clouds are said to be the marks of bed weather).

Used after a group of words: to be likely/ to be sure/ to be certain (He is sure to marry her).

The For-to-Infinitive Construction. The inf. is in predicate relation to a noun or pronoun preceded the preposition for.

Functions in the sent.

1. Subj.: For me to ask would be a problem.

2. Predicate: That was for him to find out.

3. Complex object: He waited for her to speak.

4. Attribute: The best thing for you to do is to go away.

5. Adv. Mod. (purpose: He stepped aside for me to pass), (result: That was a great temptation for me to resist).


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 944

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