Infinitive Phrase

What Is an Infinitive Phrase? (with Examples)

An infinitive phrase is the infinitive form of a verb plus any complements and modifiers.

The complement of an infinitive verb will often be its direct object, and the modifier will often be an adverb. For example:

Examples of Infinitive Phrases

Here are some examples of infinitive phrases (shaded): An infinitive phrase can play the role of a noun, an adjective, or an adverb.

Infinitive Phrases Used As Nouns

Here are some infinitive phrases (shaded) used as nouns:

  • He helped to build the roof.
  • The only solution is to lower the standards.
  • Infinitive Phrases Used As Adjectives

    Here are some infinitive phrases used as adjectives:

    Infinitive Phrases Used As Adverbs

    Here are some infinitive phrases used as adverbs:

    Infinitive Phrases with Bare Infinitives (When Not Preceded by To)

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

    In these examples, the infinitive phrases have a bare infinitive (in bold): 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:

    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 help, to sing, to burn).

    Read more about the infinitive form of a verb.

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    See Also

    What is the infinitive form? What are complements? What are modifiers? What is a direct object? What are finite verbs? What are non-finite verbs? Glossary of grammatical terms