Infinitives

The infinitive is the “to” form of the verb.

Infinitive means “infinite” or “unbounded” form. It is the un-conjugated form of the verb. It is not married to a subject. It is connected to a phrase or a verb. It enables one to express abstract ideas and it is complex to use.

I decided to go home.
I tried to open the door.
I decided to go around the back way.
I wanted to get inside.
I did not want to break a window.
I did not intend to break a window.

Note that modals attach to a verb with no “to” but another class of verbs attaches to a verb with “to” (with the infinitive).

Other Uses of the Infinitive

“To be or not to be …that is the question.”

This is from Hamlet.

“To have or to be?” is Erich Fromm’s book.

Have you seen the ownership and identity page? (add link)

Modals and no “to” forms

Modals are a type of verb. They are followed by a verb without “to”:

I can go.
I should go.
I might go.
I may go.
I must go.
I could go.
I will go.

This one is a past tense form:

I did go.

Compare these:

I like to go.
I need to go.
I ought to go.
I want to go.
I have to go.

Compare also:

I decided to go.
I intended to go.

in past tense.

and passive forms:

Passive Voice

I was forced to go.
I was compelled to go.
I was made to go.
I was advised to go.

or following adjectives:

I was impatient to go.
I was reluctant to go.
I was keen to go.
I was afraid to go.
I was happy to go

The distinction between adjective and past participle becomes very unclear. Many past participles are used as adjectives:

I was interested to meet him.

Present participles can also be used as adjectives in many cases but not in all cases.

It was interesting to meet him.

Infinitives are widely used in the Banjo Player’s Brother.

Expanding Business English Drills with Infinitives in Bold Type

Look at the infinitives in bold type in the text below. Note that it is possible to make very complex sentences without an infinitive:

the bank owns the government

the bank owns the government because the government is a corporation

the bank owns the government because the government is a bankrupt corporation

the bank owns the government because the government is a bankrupt corporation which went bankrupt in 1933

the bank owns the government because the government is a bankrupt corporation which went bankrupt in 1933 when the bank took control of the money supply

Note that there were relative clauses and long verb phrases but no infinitives. We see our first infinitive below:

the bank owns the government because the government is a bankrupt corporation which went bankrupt in 1933 when the bank took control of the money supply and began to lend money to the government.

the bank owns the government and can give the government orders because the government is a bankrupt corporation which went bankrupt in 1933 when the bank took control of the money supply and began to lend money to the government.

the bank owns the government and the bank can give the government orders because the government is a bankrupt corporation which went bankrupt in 1933 when the bank took control of the money supply and began to lend money to the government

the bank effectively owns the government and the bank can give the government administration orders because the government is a bankrupt corporation which went bankrupt in 1933 when the bank took control of the money supply and began to lend money to the government at interest.

In each case the pattern “began PLUS infinitve”

The reason that the government cannot pay public servants salaries is not because it has not collected enough tax.

The reason that the government cannot pay public servants salaries is because the government has to use all its revenue to pay interest on its loans.

The first one is not strictly speaking an infinitive as it is part of the idiomatic obligation form “to have to” (the equivalent of the modal form: “must”). The second one is a true infinitive: “use to pay”.

Look at it again here:

The reason that the government cannot pay public servants’ salaries is because the government has to use all its money to pay interest on its loans.

The reason that the government cannot pay public servants’ salaries is because the government has to use all its tax revenue to pay interest on its loans.

The reason that the government cannot pay public servants’ salaries is because the government has to use all its tax revenue and money from other sources to pay interest on its loans.

The reason that the government cannot pay public servants salaries is because the government has to use all its revenue to pay interest on the loans, which it took out when it printed money.

Do not be fooled by the next set. There are no infinitives here:

The loan go back to 1933.
The loans which have to be paid back go back to 1933.
The loans go back to the creation of the Federal Reserve System.
The loans go back to the creation of the fed in 1933.

There are several “to” phrases but no true “infinitive”. “Have to” is not an infinitive.

Would it be a good idea to nationalize the banking system and give the power to print money back to the government?

Would it be a good idea to release the government from the control of the banking system?

World English Course

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Summary

verb plus infinitive (decide to go)
infinitive as noun (to be or not to be)
adjective plus infinitive (impatient to go)

Grammar as Music

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