The Infinitive

The Infinitive
The infinitive form is to + base verb form. It seems like a verb, but it’s not.
Examples: to run, to jump, to sing, to dance, to try, to work
An infinitive can act as a noun, adjective, or adverb.
The infinitive as a noun of activity*:
1. Ruby asked to deliver her speech first. (object of the verb).
2. Our goal is to arrive by noon. (object of the be verb—complement).
* Avoid using infinitives as the subject of the sentence. Use a gerund instead
The infinitive as an adjective (An adjective modifies a nouns and answers What
kind? Which one? or How many?):
1. The drive to succeed is important in business.
2. Put the books to sell in one box.
3. The most important supplies to bring are the ones in the basement.
4. The fastest train to take is the Southbound L train.
The infinitive as an adverb (An adverb answers: Where? When? Why (purpose)?
To what extent? Under what condition?):
1. I need the car to get home.
2. He gave them money to pay for dinner.
3. To win the game, we need help.
4. He weeded the garden to help the crop.
NOTE: sometimes the infinitive appears without the to.
1. We heard him (to) sing the song.
2. Let the men (to) work in peace.
3. The teacher had us (to) work in groups.
Remember: Don’t confuse the infinitive use of to with the preposition use of to. It is
easy to remember:
To + a base verb form = infinitive
To + anything else = prepositional phrase.
He gave the money to Ruby.
(Ruby is a noun. Prepositional phrase.)
He couldn’t get the car to start.
(start can be a verb. Infinitive.)
Let’s go to the movies.
(the=adjective. movie=noun. Prep phr.)
We need to practice if we are going to win. (practice can be a verb. Infinitive.)
Infinitives Exercise
Directions: Circle each infinitive. Tell how it functions (noun, adjective, or adverb). Some
do not have any infinitives. Some have more than one.
1. My family likes to send Christmas cards to everyone we know. _______________
2. The biggest problem to overcome is where to put the tent. _______________
3. Shakespeare wrote to please the masses. _______________
4. Rabbits like to hide when there is a dog around. _______________
5. The goal of many actors is to win an Oscar. _______________
6. I’m going to the store this afternoon. ______________
7. The best way to avoid the dangers of smoking is not to start. _______________
8. This trench was dug to help drain the swamp. _______________
9. The best place to buy shoes seems to be the giant shoe warehouse. ____________
10. Spicy food will help to warm your spirit. _______________
11. The wealthy man always gave money to the poor. _______________
12. They put the books with the other items to donate. _______________
13. The horse tied to the post tried to break free. _______________
14. It is cruel not to help someone in need. _______________
15. We need someone to run to the police to get help. _______________
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