There are several types of infinitive:
1. The present infinitive: It doesn´ t indicate in itself time. The temporal aspect is determined by the element governing the infinitive:
a) It can refer to the present:
– It does him god to take long walks
b) It can refer to the future:
– I wish we had an invitation to dine out.
c) It can refer to the past:
– How very foolish of you to do it!
2. The perfect infinitive: It indicates what has preceded
– I rejoice to have finished it so soon.
3. The passive infinitive: There is a vacillation in content between state and action.
– Do you expect the office to be closed?
4. The progressive infinitive: It refers to actions of a certain duration taking place around a point in time.
– What can he be doing?
The infinitive may occur either with or without a proclitic particle. This particle is written to and pronounced /tu/ before a vowel, /tƏ/ and sometimes /tu/ before a consonant.
1. The infinitive without to is known as plain or bare infinitive. It is only used in verbal function, never in a nominal function.
It is used:
1) With modal verbs: can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will would.
– Tell him he may go home
2) With to dare and to need, mainly in negative and interrogative sentences
– How dare you come here?
– He need not return the letter
3) With to do when used as an auxiliary of emphasis or periphrasis
– Oh, do tell us what happened!
4) With had better, would rather and had sooner.
– You´ d better go with your sister
– I´ d sooner stay where I am.
– I´ d rather go for a walk
5) In sentences denoting some action taken in preference to another rather than is followed by plain infinitive
– He resigned rather than stifle his conscience
6) In a number of more or less stock phrases: to make believe, make do, let go.
7) In colloquial speech help is followed by the plain infinitive
– Just help wash up
8) The second of two coordinated infinitives des not have to if the first doesn´ t have it.
– You can´ t do better than go
But if the first infinitive has to there is vacillation in the case of the second
– We have nothing to do but (to) enjoy ourselves
The decisive factor is the closeness of the connection. If contrast or emphasis is connoted by such infinitives, to must be repeated
– It was better to laugh than cry
9) With certain verbs followed by an object + infinitive to is always omitted. This is the so called accusative-with-infinitive
– I let him go
Thus also after hear, watch, make, notice, observe. But with many verbs there is vacillation as to the use of to before the infinitive: bid, have, feel, see, find. The infinitive without to is regarded as the more correct. There is likewise vacillation with help and know. The infinitive with to is preferred.
10) With verbs of sensation + object + infinitive is more or less interchangeable with + object + present participle.
– I saw him come (the whole action)
– I saw him coming (part of the action)
2. Infinitive with to:
1) As subject and predicative complement:
– To err is human
– To see her is to love her
2) As object:
– I want to go
3) As complement with some auxiliary verbs: be, have, ought, used
– I´m glad to see you
4) As complement of many adjectives:
– I´ m glad to see you.
5) Functioning as an adjective:
– This never-to-be forgotten day
6) It is found loosely attached to the sentence with the value of an adverbial phrase
– To see him, one would think he is a fool.
Among these adverbial infinitives, we have to note the infinitive expressing intention. In these cases to is interchangeable with in order to. An infinitive with not is more apt be preceded by in order to than merely by to when intention is to be expressed.
So as to approximates of to an in order to, though it involves a resultative concept:
– I steered so as to get into the harbour.
7) To express way or manner, an infinitive after to know is preceded by how.
– I don´ t know how to do it.
8) In the accusative-with-infinitive construction after verbs like to allow, to ask, to command, to force, to order, to permit, to persuade etc. all of which express an act of will.
– Allow me to congratulate you
9) In exclamatory sentences, they express surprise or indignation or a wish that is not likely to be fulfilled
– Oh, to be in England, now that April is here!
10) Active versus passive infinitive: The active form of the infinitive and active content go together and also passive form and passive content. But after the verbs to be, to leave, to remain, we find a number of cases of the active form of the infinitive with passive content
– There is only one thing to do /to be done
The active form of the infinitive with passive content is found as the complement of many adjectives (easy, difficult, hard)
– A question difficult to answer.
Split infinitive: It is the construction where an adverb is inserted between to and the infinitive. The construction is regarded with disapproval by many
– To fully comprehend
Certain adverbs however can never be replaced between to and the infinitive: only, merely, not.
The forms of the gerund have both substantival and verbal features:
1. The gerund´ s substantival features:
a) It may have a plural –s:
– such goings-on.
b) It may have a genitive –s:
– We are walking for walking´ s sake
c) It may be provided with articles:
– The cream of the batting had already been skimmed on Saturday
d) It may combine with words in the attributive-adjectival functions:
– There was much coming and going
e) It may form part of compounds in the same way as a substantive
– A walking-stick
f) It may have the object of the implied verb attached to it by of:
– The killing of the pig lasted a lot
g) It may be coordinated with substantives:
– Transportation or hanging that´ s what he deserves
h) It may be subject, object, predicative complement and the complement of a preposition:
– This is playing with fire
2. The verbal character of the gerund can be seen from the fact that this form may:
a) Be combined with adverbial members:
– By scrapping and eating skimpily, he spent four months as a student in New York
b) Have an object or predicative complement.
– After receiving the last sacraments, he died peacefully
c) Have a subject:
– She got a sense of it being her duty to do.
d) Be inflected in the perfect and the passive:
– This saved him from being hurt
The gerund shares many of its syntactic properties with the infinitive with to. Both may occur as the subject, object or nominal predicate of a sentence, though only the gerund can take noun-qualifiers. Both may be qualified by an adverb or adverbial phrase, take an object or a subject and be used in the perfect tense and the passive voice.
So it is necessary to define their respective territories. The gerund is used to the exclusion of the infinitive in the following cases:
1. As a part of a prepositional adjunct:
– He insisted on seeing her
A number of verb+ preposition/ adverb combinations take always the gerund: be for/against, give up, keep on, leave off, look forward to, put off, see about, take to, prevent from, accuse of, apologize for, thank for, insist on
2. The gerund is also used as an object or adjunct to a number of verbs and verbal phrases: to avoid, to burst out, to deny, to detest, to enjoy, to escape, to fancy, to finish, it´ s no good/use, cannot help, cannot stand, postpone, resent, celebrate
– It is no good talking to him
3. As an adjunct like and worth and after the phrase there is no we use the gerund
– It isn´ t worth visiting it
– There is no accounting for tastes
– I feel like going out.
After a number of other verbs or verbal phrases either the gerund or the infinitive may occur: to begin, to start, to continue, to attempt, to intend, can´ t bear, to love, to like, to hate, to prefer, to remember, to regret, to try on, to go on, used to, be afraid to, to advise, to recommend etc.
1. After to remember the infinitive refers to the future, the gerund to the past
– I must remember to ask him
– I remember seeing her when I was a little girl
2. To try takes a gerund when it means to make an experiment and infinitive when it means to make an attempt
– Try to keep still for a moment
– To make a living he has tried writing and painting
3. After begin, start and continue either the gerund or infinitive may be used without any difference, but if the verb following begin or start is a verb of knowing or understanding we use the infinitive
– I began to understand
4. After to hate, like, dislike, prefer, the infinitive is mostly used with reference to a special occasion, the gerund being more appropriate to a general statement
– She hates shopping
– I hate to disappoint you, but…
These verbs when used in the conditional are followed by the infinitive
– I´ d love to come with you
5. After to permit, allow, advise, recommend the infinitive is used if the person concerned is mentioned. If the person concerned is not mentioned, the gerund is used
– I don’t allow smoking
– I don’t allow him to smoke a pipe
6. Used to + infinitive expresses a past habit:
– I used to smoke
But to be used to takes a gerund. It is to be accustomed to
– I am used to standing in queues
7. Be afraid of + gerund expresses a fear that something that can happen to someone.
– He is afraid of falling
Be afraid of + infinitive means that the subject
8. After to need, to require and to want the gerund varies with the passive infinitive:
– The grass wants cutting
– These quotations need checking /to be checked
– He stopped talking for a while (this action)
– He stopped to have a drink (another action= in order to)
Some other uses of –ing forms:
1. Verbs of sensation take the –ing form or the infinitive without to
– I heard the bombs dropping/drop
2. After to go and to come verbs denoting physical activity and the verb to shop are often put into the –ing form
– They are going shopping /swimming
3. Spend, waste time/ hours/ minutes
– They spent three years working on the dictionary
4. Pronouns and possessive adjectives with gerunds:
– She doesn´ t mind my coming late
A. The present participle: expresses an action or state simultaneous with that expressed by the predicate of the sentence
1. The adjectival character can be seen in
a) It can be used attributively: He has a captivating manner
b) It can be used predicatively: Her mind is wandering
c) It can be used substantively: The dying were being heaped
d) It can be used adverbially: He was a strikingly handsome man
2. The verbal character of the present participle is to be seen when it is combined with the same sentence members as the corresponding finite verbal expressions
a) Adverb: The dialects are perpetually changing
b) Object: He had cards printed offering private appointments
c) Predicative complement: Under the Commonwealth, the majority of the upper class, being cavaliers, had suffered an eclipse
d) Subject: It being cold, he out on his coat.
The time concept of present participles depends upon the position:
a) When they precede the finite verb of the sentence, the present participle expresses an action more or less simultaneous with that expressed by the finite verb
b) When placed after the finite verb they are not limited in time in this way.
– Arriving in London at ten, I´ll go by train
– I´ll go by train, arriving in London at ten
The present participle may be used in constructions analogous to the accusative with infinitive, after to hear, to feel, to see, to watch and to have. The construction may be denoted accusative with present participle.
– I cannot have you doing nothing all day.
It is also usual after to listen to and to look at.
– He looked at the children playing on the lawn.
The distinction of these verbs +infinitive or + present participle is that of completion and incompletion:
– I saw him walking across the road (on the way across)
– I saw him walk across the road (from one side to the other)
In the same way as a noun or an adjective, a participle may be preceded by as when it is a predicative adjunct to an object:
– We always regarded the document as belonging to her brother
A present participle may be equivalent to an adverbial clause, chiefly of time, reason, or attendant circumstances
– Arriving at the station he found the train gone. (When he arrived)
A present participle group in a free adjunct may be practically equivalent to a coordinate clause
– Sitting myself I began to read (I sat down and I began to read)
B. The past participle:
As the present participle is identical in form with the gerund, so the past participle of all verbs and some irregular verbs is identical with the simple past tense, and is to be distinguished from it by its function in the sentence. Past participles end in –ed in the case of regular verbs and it has the same orthographical and phonetic rules as the simple past tense.
The past participle does not necessarily refer to the past, and it generally has a passive meaning, but sometimes kit has an active meaning.
– An escaped prisoner (A prisoner who has escaped).
The past participle may be either adjectival or verbal in character:
1. With the adjectival character it may be:
a) attributive: Lost property
b) predicative: My patience is exhausted
c) substantival in connection with the definite article: The injured
2. With the verbal value it is found:
a) In the perfect: I have/had slept
b) In the passive: Battles were lost and won
When there are 2 forms of the past participle in irregular verbs, the distinction lies elsewhere:
1) Drunk/Drunken: used adjectivally drunk is predicative, while drunken is used attributively
– He is drunk
– His drunken habits
2) Swelled/Swollen: in the verbal function swollen is more common than swelled. As the adjective swollen is the usual form
– My face has swollen/ swelled
– A swollen river
3) In the same way there is some difference between the following pairs: born/borne, blessed/blest, burned/burnt, mown/mowed, hung/hunged, lit/lighted, struck/ stricken, sewn/sewed
4) Only a few words such as aged, beloved, blessed, cursed, learned may be said to differ in form to some extent according to the 2 functions in that the vowel of the suffix –ed has often been kept in the adjectival function and not in the verbal
– He was beloved by her pupils /bilΛvd/
– My beloved /bilΛvid/
Uses and functions of the past participle:
1) In attributive use: the meaning is usually passive, that is, the person or thing denoted by the noun has usually undergone the action expressed by the participle
2) In predicative use: It may express a condition resulting from the action indicated by the verb. The verb is usually to be but it can also be feel, look, seem, appear
– The village was/appeared quite deserted
3) The past participle of transitive verbs may be used as predicative adjuncts to the objects of verbs like to see, to hear, to feel, to find, to get, to like, to make. The construction may be denoted as the accusative with past participle
– He had seen villages evacuated
After to have it expresses causation
– I had the house painted
4) The past participle may follow the noun or pronoun it qualifies. In this case it is used in semipredicative function and it is equivalent to an attributive clause
– Do you happen to know the number of men killed?
5) A past participle with its adjunct may be equivalent to an adverbial clause, mainly of time, reason and attendance circumstances. The word to which the participle relates should be the same as the subject of the verb
– Arrived at the station, he found his train gone (It was he who arrived at the station)
6) A past participle in a free adjunct is sometimes preceded by a noun or pronoun functioning as its subject. This is called the absolute participle construction.
– All things considered, it is not such a bad bargain
7) To form the passive voice with the verb to be and sometimes with to get or to become
– The window was broken
8) To form the perfect tenses with the verb to have
– He has spent all his money