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    #1

    Infinitive / Bare infinitive

    Egnlish teacher

    I was wondering: does the infinitive marker “to” belong to the verb (to go, to see, to read, etc)?
    I would answer: yes. For example, the question “Does she like Mozart?” is usually analyzed like this: auxiliary “does” + subject + bare infinitive or infinitive without “to” (so you have to omit the “s”).
    I think this confirms that the particle “to” does belong to the verb; it says that the verb is in the infinitive form.
    Do you agree?
    Than you very much.
    WW

  1. spongie's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Infinitive / Bare infinitive

    That's interesting question. I would say that "to" does belong to the verb in certain way.

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    #3

    Re: Infinitive / Bare infinitive

    There is no real reason to think of 'to' as part of the infinitive.

    People who speak/write of the 'bare infinitive' (i.e. the infinitive without any odd additions) do so to avoid people wrongly assuming that 'infinitive' is a 'to-' form. 'To' is no more a part of the English infinitive than 'zu' is of the German or 'à' or 'de' of the French infinitives.

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    #4

    Re: Infinitive / Bare infinitive

    Hi, 5jj.

    So you think it is wrong to say that the particle “to” can be explained as the infinitive marker? I just wanted to provide practical help for my students when they ask me about the English infinitive.
    In Latin languages like mine (Italian), infinitives are easily identifiable by their endings (-are / -ere / -ire). The same is true for French (-er, -ir, -re, -oir).
    From teacher to teacher: how can I deal with this difficult topic?

    Thank you very much.
    WW

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    #5

    Re: Infinitive / Bare infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Whitman View Post
    Hi, 5jj.

    So you think it is wrong to say that the particle “to” can be explained as the infinitive marker? I just wanted to provide practical help for my students when they ask me about the English infinitive.
    In Latin languages like mine (Italian), infinitives are easily identifiable by their endings (-are / -ere / -ire). The same is true for French (-er, -ir, -re, -oir).
    From teacher to teacher: how can I deal with this difficult topic?

    Thank you very much.
    WW
    I agree with 5jj. Although I have to say that in France, where I taught for eight years, the verb tables in most of the school text books show the infinitive with "to".

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    #6

    Re: Infinitive / Bare infinitive

    In Italy too. Or, at least, (to) go, (to) speak, etc, as I usually do.
    WW

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    #7

    Re: Infinitive / Bare infinitive

    Interesting question WW!!! I'd tend to agree with you there. I would be inclined to regard TO as part of the infinitive form. However, now that I give it more thought I've realised that I normally refer to it as "INFINITIVE WITH TO" in class. That must be because our Italian infinitive forms translate into so many ways in English, i.e. Bare infinitive, infinitive with to and the gerund.
    All the best.
    Shan

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    #8

    Re: Infinitive / Bare infinitive

    This is a problem if one tries to translate non-English infinitives into English.

    If you look at English as a language in its own right, i.e., not a translation from other languages, then the 'infinitive' does not contain the word 'to'. It not infrequently happens that, when other languages use their equivalent of the 'bare' infinive, English requires 'to'. So? German somtimes requires 'zu'; French sometimes requires ' or 'de'. This does not make these equivalents to 'to' part of the infinitive.

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    #9

    Re: Infinitive / Bare infinitive

    I see your point, 5jj, and I no longer want to bother you with my problems.
    One last thing, though. My grammar book for ESL students* says (just an example),

    “Past simple, interrogative form: DID + subject + bare infinitive.”
    “What is a bare infinitive?” is like a FAQ in forums.
    Do no blame me if my response is, “It is the infinitive without <to>”.
    It is the only one which can be easily understood.

    Thank you very much.
    WW

    *written by native speakers

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    #10

    Re: Infinitive / Bare infinitive

    Given how common it is for books to use the form to + verb as the infinitive and the term bare infinitive, I don't see much wrong with saying that- it explains it in a way that is easy for someone who has been taught that the infinitive takes to.

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