In languages that have infinitives, they generally have most of the following properties:
• In most uses, infinitives are non-finite verbs.
• They function as other lexicalcategories — usually nouns — within the clauses that contain them, for example by serving as the subject of another verb.
• They do not represent any of the verb's arguments (as employer and employee do).
• They are not inflected to agree with any subject
• They cannot serve as the only verb of a declarative sentence.
• They do not have tense, aspect, moods, and/or voice, or they are limited inthe range of tenses, aspects, moods, and/or voices that they can use. (In languages where infinitives do not have moods at all, they are usually treated as being their own non-finite mood.)
• They are used with auxiliary verbs.
However, it bears repeating that none of the above is a defining quality of the infinitive; infinitives do not have all these properties in every language, as it is shownbelow, and other verb forms may have one or more of them. For example, English gerunds and participles have most of these properties as well.
Recognize an infinitive when you see one.
To sneeze, to smash, to cry, to shriek, to jump, to dunk, to read, to eat, to slurp—all of these are infinitives. An infinitive will almost always begin with to followed by the simple form of the verb, like this:to + verb = infinitive
Important Note: Because an infinitive is not a verb, you cannot add s, es, ed, or ing to the end. Ever!
Infinitives can be used as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. Look at these examples:
To sleep is the only thing Eli wants after his double shift waiting tables at the neighborhood café.
To sleep functions as a noun because it is the subject of the sentence.
No matterhow fascinating the biology dissection is, Emanuel turns his head and refuses to look.
To look functions as a noun because it is the direct object for the verb refuses.
Wherever Melissa goes, she always brings a book to read in case conversation lags or she has a long wait.
To read functions as an adjective because it modifies book.
Richard braved the icy rain to throw the smelly squid eyeballstew into the apartment dumpster.
To throw functions as an adverb because it explains why Richard braved the inclement weather.
Recognize an infinitive even when it is missing the to.
An infinitive will almost always begin with to. Exceptions do occur, however. An infinitive will lose its to when it follows certain verbs. These verbs are feel, hear, help, let, make, see, and watch.
The patternlooks like this:
special verb + direct object + infinitive - to
Here are some examples:
As soon as Theodore felt the rain splatter on his hot, dusty skin, he knew that he had a good excuse to return the lawn mower to the garage.
Felt = special verb; rain = direct object; splatter = infinitive minus the to.
When Danny heard the alarm clock buzz, he slapped the snooze button and burrowed underthe covers for ten more minutes of sleep.
Heard = special verb; alarm clock = direct object; buzz = infinitive minus the to.
Although Dr. Ribley spent an extra class period helping us understand logarithms, we still bombed the test.
Helping = special verb; us = direct object; understand = infinitive minus the to.
Because Freddie had never touched a snake, I removed the cover of the cage and...