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Page history last edited by gretchen 11 years, 6 months ago

Infinitives are verbals that are made up of the word to and a verb. Infinitives may function as nouns, adjectives or adverbs. Since infinitives are derived from verbs, they do express actions or states of being. When infinitives function as adjectives and adverbs, they are usually found preceding nouns and pronouns in sentences, and when they function as nouns, they are used as subjects, direct objects and objects of prepositions. Infinitives (to + verb) should not be confused with prepositional phrases (to + noun or pronoun). Infinitives may occur as to + one verb, or they may be part of an infinitive phrase. Let’s take a look at some examples:


Infinitives functioning as nouns

To love is the greatest achievement.


Infinitives functioning as adjectives

Jason’s group was the last to arrive.


Infinitives functioning as adverbs

The students must pass the TAKS tests to graduate.


Infinitive phrase functioning as noun

Ranee wanted to arrive at her destination.


Infinitive phrase functioning as adjective

The Smiths were the first family in our neighborhood to adopt a child.




This test, explained by Mark Lester in Grammar and Usage in the Classroom, only works for infinitives and infinitive phrases that function as adverbs. It is a good test to determine if an infinitive is functioning as an adverb: “If an infinitive or infinitive phrase can be moved to the beginning of the sentence, then that infinitive or infinitive phrase modifies the verb” (199). Let’s take a look at an example:


You must study hard to get good grades.

To get good grades, you must study hard.



Additional Resources

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Comments (1)

gretchen said

at 8:54 pm on Mar 13, 2009

I would appreciate any additional resources that any of you would be willing to contribute.

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