This article explores the grammatical term infinitive. Moreover, it illustrates with examples, its usage, function, and its difference with the term prepositional phrase.
An infinitive is a form of a verb that functions as some other part of speech in a particular structure of a sentence.
The simple form of a verb with a ‘to’ before it makes an infinitive.
Infinitive = to + simple form of the verb.
For example: to talk, to play, to write, to work etc.
See the following sample sentences. The bold faced words are infinitives used in the sentences.
I hope to see them again soon.
The boss ordered the driver to stop.
I expect to pass the entrance exam.
My friend likes to take dinner before 8 pm.
Infinitives can functions as nouns, adverbs and/or adjectives. Check the following examples:
To sleep is what John wants after his 4 hour long paper during his terminals.
To sleep is a noun, as it functions as the subject of the above sentence.
No matter how interesting a piece of poetry is, Allan turns a deaf ear to it and declines to even try to enjoy.
To enjoy is a noun, as it functions as the direct object the verb declines.
Wherever Jennifer goes, she always brings an umbrella to use in case it rains or he has a long walk in the scorching sun.
To use acts as an adjective, because it modifies the noun umbrella.
To succeed, Edward needs the determination to work hard.
Edward needs the determination to work hard to succeed.
(You can use it either in the beginning or ending of the sentence)
To succeed functions as an adverb because it explains the why Edward needs the determination to work hard. Thus it further explains the verb need.
Infinitive vs Prepositional Phrase
Although Infinitive and prepositional phrases my look the same, yet they are not the same. They are different in their structure and function. An infinitive is made of a “to” before a verb. For examples:
I like to play and to hike in my leisure time.
A prepositional phrase, however, is made with preposition “to” which is used before a noun. For example:
George went to office earlier that day.
Functions of an Infinitive
Infinitives are used usually before the main verb. They, however, may be found at different places with different functions in a sentence. Their role is to add flow and smoothness to the text. They help the author or the writer to avoid using more words that look awkward and redundant. Thus it is a tool to put conciseness into the text. Infinitives are used make the meaning clear when a subject performs two functions, and when you want to describe two functions of the subject in a single sentence. In the second function, it actually conveys a sense of purpose of that subject.
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