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Lesson Topic: InfinitivesTo help the poor people of the world is anoble goal.In the above sentence, which words form the infinitive?  To help.  An infinitive is the base form of a verb with to.  Here are some more infinitives: To sleep |
To wash |
To love |
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An infinitive phrase is a group of words with an infinitive (it is NOT the whole sentence).  Again, looking at the above example, what is the infinitive phrase?  To help the poor people of theworld.   book recommendation |
| Grammar Tests and Exercises (with all the answers and explanations!)Here's help for anyone who has something to say or write but has difficulty doing so. Better Grammar in 30 Minutes features thorough coverage of key grammar skills, clear explanations with a minimum of grammatical terms and an abundance of exercises and activities to help reinforce new skilldevelopment. An answer key in the back encourages readers to work at their own pace.  Click here for more information. |
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Infinitives and infinitive phrases can be both subjects and objects in sentences.  Take a look at these examples: SUBJECT  | To study hard will increase your chances of getting into college. |
OBJECT | Kathy wants to study with her friends. |
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There are someverbs that are followed only by infinitives.  For example, Hesitate | She didn’t hesitate to tell the boss that some employees were stealing office supplies. |
Offer | The Martin Family offered to watch their neighbor’s dog for the whole week. |
Promise | The school promised to help me find an apartment. |
Want | We want to visit all of the historic sites in Tehran. |
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These wordsare rarely followed by gerunds (nouns that look like -ing ending verbs).  For a list of verbs that are followed by infinitives, click here.  For a list of adjectives followed by infinitives, click here.For a list of verbs followed by infinitives + object, click here. For a list of verbs that are followed by gerunds, click here.    |
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Students are often confused about this.  When should I useinfinitives?  When should I use gerunds? There are some situations when BOTH an infinitive and gerund can be used with no change in meaning.  For example, The children like to go to the zoo. |
The children like going to the zoo. |
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These two sentences have the same meaning.For some other verbs, there is a difference in meaning:   | Example | Meaning |
GERUND | Louise stoppedsmoking.| She doesn’t smoke anymore. |
INFINITIVE | Louise stopped to smoke. | She stopped doing an activity because she wanted to smoke. |
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So, now you may want to ask, “What’s the difference between infinitives and gerunds?”  That’s a good question.  We are glad you asked!Though there are always exceptions to the following, here are two suggestions that will help you distinguish the differencebetween infinitives and gerunds:Suggestion #1Infinitives are more often used to answer WHY-questions.  Look at the following conversation: Louise:  I stopped.Harry:  Why?Louise:  I stopped to smoke. |
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The phrase in order to is often used in this situation.  Therefore, Louise could have said, “I stopped in order to smoke.”  In order to is also used to answer why-questions.  In orderto is NEVER used with gerunds CORRECT | I stopped in order to smoke. |
INCORRECT | I stopped in order to smoking. |
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Gerunds are usually not used to answer why-questions.  Gerunds are nouns.  Gerunds directly receive actions (when in the object position) just like other nouns.  I stopped the car.I stopped the thiefI stopped smoking.*the green words are all nouns |
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