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Thread: infinitives

    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 11


    Hello to all teachers here!

    What are the uses of infinitive? its forms? its structures?

    Are infinitives as a subject, direct object, subjective complement, appositive (what else?) uses or structures or forms?

    And are infinitives as a nouns, adjectives and adverbs uses or structures or forms?

    I'm really confused about the forms or uses or structures of infinitives...

    When do I say structure? when do i say forms? when do i say uses?

    Please help me 'coz I'm really confused....

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    Re: infinitives

    You certainly do seem to be confused!

    Although I would think some general grammar tuition website might be the best thing for so general a question as this, to give a simple summary answer: the infinitive is a NONFINTE form of the verb, consisting in the uninflected verbal stem (in most languages the two are distinct, but in English they are formally identical). When referring to a verb, it is most common to do so in the form of a so-called 'to-infinitive' ('to be', 'to go', etc.), the 'to' being etymologically a preposition, but now more commonly considered a kind of particle prefix forming a syntactic unit with the infinitive, and which may or may not be required depending on the foregoing construction (but always obligatory in uses 2-4 below).

    As for the uses of the infinitive, they are essentially fourfold:

    1. (plain) VERBAL, e.g.

    I can swim.

    He is going to study French at college.

    (The infinitive is a dependent of the preceding VP.)

    2. NOMINAL, e.g.

    To be able to speak Japanese well has always been her dream.

    (The infinitive serves, like a noun, as sentence subject).

    3. ADJECTIVAL, e.g.

    It was a day to remember.

    (The infinitive adjectivally postmodifies NP 'a day'.)

    4. ADVERBIAL, e.g.

    To be honest, I was disappointed.

    (The infinitive functions as an adverbial disjunct, analogous to e.g. 'strangely' or 'unfortunately'.)

    I hope that clears things up for you a little!

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