Infinitive Form of a Verb

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What Is the Infinitive Form of a Verb? (with Examples)

The infinitive form of a verb is the verb in its basic form. It is the version of the verb which will appear in the dictionary.

The infinitive form of a verb is usually preceded by to (e.g., to run, to dance, to think). The infinitive form is not always preceded by to. Look at these examples: Note: The word to is not a preposition. It is often called the sign of the infinitive.

An infinitive is a non-finite verb. In other words, it cannot be the main verb in a sentence.

An infinitive can be used as a noun, an adjective or an adverb.

Examples of Infinitives as Nouns

Here are some examples of infinitive verbs as nouns: Compare it to this: Here is another example: Compare it to this:

Examples of Infinitives as Adjectives

An adjective modifies a noun to tell us something about the noun (e.g., its colour, type, or number). You have to bear this in mind when working out how infinitives function as adjectives. Here are some examples of infinitive verbs as adjectives: Compare it to this: Here is another example: Compare it to this: An infinitive that acts as an adjective usually appears immediately after the noun it is modifying.

Examples of Infinitives as Adverbs

An adverb usually modifies a verb to tell us when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent an action is performed. You have to bear this in mind when working out how infinitives function as adverbs. Here are some examples of infinitive verbs as adverbs: Compare it to this: Here is another example: Compare it to this:

Bare Infinitives (When Not Preceded by To)

Most infinitives are preceded by to, but after certain verbs, the to is dropped. The most obvious example is when an infinitive follows can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, or would (i.e., a modal verb). For example:

More examples (bare infinitives shaded): Bare infinitives also follow other verbs. The main ones are feel, hear, help, let, make, see, and watch. This time, there is a direct object involved. For example:

More examples (bare infinitives shaded):

Use the Infinitive Form As a Name for a Verb

When discussing grammar, the infinitive form is used as the name for a verb. For example:

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See Also

What are verbs? What are finite verbs? What are non-finite verbs? What is an infinitive phrase? Glossary of grammatical terms