Types of Infinitives in English | Basic Level
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The infinitive is a form of the verb that is used in some grammatical constructions or with other verbs. It is the verb form you see in the dictionary (for example, to dance, to drink, to go, to sleep, etc.).
In some constructions, you also use the infinitive without the “to” in front of it.
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Full Infinitive or To-Infinitive
The full infinitive or to-infinitive is formed with the word "to" and the base form of the verb. For example: to eat, to sleep, to study, etc.
Common uses of the to-infinitive include the to-infinitive as a subject of a sentence, as an object, or after an adjective. It can also be used to show purpose (why you do something), and after adjectives.
Examples using the to-infinitive
The to-infinitive as the subject of the sentences
To cook is my favorite activity.
To be successful takes hard work.
To learn English is important in today’s business world.
The to-infinitive as the object of the verb
I want to learn a new language.
Maria decided to learn Japanese.
We are planning to go to the beach this weekend.
The to-infinitive showing purpose
Mary is here to talk to you.
The students are going to the library to study.
Are you going to the party to meet new people?
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The to-infinitive after an adjective
I’m very happy to see you again.
Is it possible to learn English well in one year?
Bob isn’t old enough to watch this movie.
The bare infinitive is the base form of the verb without the word “to.” The bare infinitive can be used after some modal verbs (for example, “can,” “will,” or “may”) or after some verbs (for example, “help,” “let,” “make”).
Examples using the bare infinitive
The bare infinitive after modal verbs
May I come in?
We can’t leave now.
I will be there on time. I promise.
The bare infinitive after some verbs
Please help me clean the kitchen.
The teacher made the students stay after class.
In a split infinitive, you put an adverb between “to” and teh base form of the verb. Split infinitives are very common in everyday language.
In writing, it is a good idea not to use split infinitives because some people believe it is wrong. Actually, it is not incorrect. It is just a preference.
Examples of split infinitives
I dream to eventually live in Germany.
Be sure to carefully read the instructions before you start.
I hope to finally finish all my courses next month.
John is standing by the door to warmly welcome his guests when they arrive.
This page has the most common uses of the infinitive, but there are many more situations where you use to-infinitives or bare infinitives. If you understand the above uses, you will be able to learn the other uses when you see them.