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Questions tagged [infinitives]

Questions about verbs in their basic (unmarked) forms, such as “be”, “do”, “have”, or “sit”, sometimes introduced by the particle “to” and other times used by itself.

103
votes
12answers
12k views

Why does “I was happy to do my homework” work, but “I was tired to do my homework” doesn't?

I'm teaching ESL, and I came across a question from one of my students that I don't know how to answer. Using the form "{subject} {verb} {adjective} {infinitive phrase}" we've been going over ...
81
votes
10answers
363k views

What is the correct way to use infinitive after the verb “help”: with or without “to”?

What is the correct way to use infinitive after the verb "help": with or without "to"? For example: Please, help me to understand this. or: Please, help me understand this.
49
votes
9answers
86k views

Order of “not” with infinitive

This is one thing that keeps bugging me, and maybe there's a direct answer. Grammatically, which one is more correct of these two? Does it make a difference? I tried not to do that. I tried ...
49
votes
4answers
45k views

When should a verb be followed by a gerund instead of an infinitive?

Some verbs are followed by ing, e.g. I enjoy swimming. We can't say I enjoy to swim. Likewise, some verbs are followed by to, e.g. I decided to make a plan. Which particular verbs are followed by ...
39
votes
6answers
21k views

What is the infinitive of “can”?

Like the title says: I don't think "to can" is right :) I mean "can" as in to be able to. I'm aware of other meanings. I can't find the answer here. (There's What is an "infinitive"? which ...
27
votes
2answers
312k views

How to use “to + V-ing”?

I saw some scenarios that used the structure "to + V-ing", such as the following: Looking forward to hearing. Disposed to using few words. I would like to apply what I learned in school to helping ...
23
votes
4answers
8k views

Are split infinitives grammatically incorrect, or are they valid constructs?

Mark's generosity in this crisis seems to more than make up for his earlier stinginess. Should those sentences always be avoided, or are there cases where they are valid?
20
votes
5answers
6k views

“I think him to be about 50” or “I think he is about 50”?

I have two options. Which one is correct? a) I think him to be about 50. b) I think he is about 50. If both are correct, should I avoid one or the other?
20
votes
3answers
49k views

“Can easily be” vs. “can be easily” — what's the difference?

I'm wondering what the difference is between: It can easily be obtained. It can be easily obtained. Also, what's the preferred way to write it? If there is any... I googled for both ...
19
votes
5answers
173k views

“Plan to do” vs. “plan on doing”

What are the differences between the following? He is planning to do something. He is planning on doing something. When to use each?
17
votes
3answers
10k views

What is the purpose of (-s) in “Don't hurts us”?

Shouldn't verbs after "to do" always be infinitive? If so, then what's the purpose of adding the suffix "-s" ? Image from Middle Earth- Shadow of Mordor || Gollum says: Don't hurts us!
17
votes
2answers
76k views

Should we use “not to” or “to not”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Order of “not” with infinitive It's OK to make mistakes; it's not OK not to learn from them. What kind of grammar structure is this? Could I use "to not" as a ...
16
votes
4answers
502 views

“Be” as an action rather than a state

I’ve heard, on rare occasion, a subtle differentiation between be as a state (to passively embody) and be as an action (to actively embody). The latter form often occurs in parallel with do to add ...
15
votes
4answers
90k views

“I like to do (be) something” vs “I like doing (being) something”

This is what I read in an answer to a previous question: Verbs Followed by Either Gerund or Infinitive Sometimes the meaning changes according to the verb used. <…> (dis)like &...
15
votes
2answers
6k views

Past tense and “rather than”

I found myself with a sentence like this, using "accept" in the infinitive form after "rather than": They left the club, rather than accept the terms. But I'm unsure of its grammatical soundness. ...
14
votes
3answers
8k views

“He recommended that they are separated” - is this valid?

I've seen and heard this kind of construction several times now and it always bugs me. When someone recommends something, surely the verb used in the subclause should be infinitive, so: He ...
13
votes
4answers
184k views

“Started to work” vs “Started working”

What is the difference between the following: Things started to work again. Things started working again.
12
votes
2answers
2k views

What is going on grammatically in the opening line of One Hundred Years of Solitude?

The opening line of One Hundred Years of Solitude in the English translation reads: Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon ...
12
votes
2answers
14k views

Using “to” twice in a row

In the sentence "Who should I talk to to learn about that?" my grammar checker says I have a repeated word. I admit that it sounds a little awkward, but I'm not sure it's incorrect. I realize I could ...
11
votes
5answers
4k views

Hear Me Roar Vs Hear Me Roaring? [duplicate]

I give a sentence below from "Katy Perry-Roar'' "You're gonna hear me roar" Now my question is that why is the 'infinitive (hear)' used here after 'gonna', not 'participle' like 'you're gonna hear ...
10
votes
5answers
864 views

How to use the infinitive in this sentence?

I am doing documentation for a web application issue and I'm not sure how best to word what I'm trying to say: "This appears to work no longer in any web browser." "This appears no longer to ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

“Wish” in the Passive [closed]

If we make the subordinate clause in "I wish he were here" nonfinite we get "I wish him to be here", right? Can we then change the voice? What I mean is can "He is wished to be here" be grammatical ...
10
votes
5answers
42k views

Difference in meaning: “would have had to be” vs “would have had to have been”

Being a non native speaker, I cannot spot the difference here: He would have had to have been there. He would have had to be there. The only thing that comes to my mind is that in the first case, ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it appropriate to omit “to” after “ought”?

Is it appropriate to omit to after ought? I ought to be disciplined for my insolence. Vs. I ought be disciplined for my insolence. Is it okay to omit the to?
9
votes
3answers
24k views

“Important that John bring/brings” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use the subjunctive mood? Given the sentence John brings his lunch to school, is it correct to say It is important that John brings his lunch to school (...
9
votes
3answers
20k views

Infinitives with “ought not”

Most of the references I can find about the word “ought” indicate that even when negating it, you should use an infinitive: “You ought not to go there.” That sounds quite bad ...
9
votes
5answers
48k views

When is “to” a preposition and when the infinitive marker?

I want to see you. I look forward to seeing you. How can one say "to" in the first sentence is an infinitive marker and in the second sentence a preposition when we are given just the following ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

How does the to infinitive work with adjectives like “wrong” and “wise”?

You were wrong to pick that car I was wise to go home that day. I can't quite explain how the to-infinitive modifies the adjectives here. It's similar to sentences like "It's nice to see you" ...
9
votes
3answers
5k views

Help identifying an error type “tried to help me learning”

I have a friend from Russia who is trying to learn English and recently used the sentence "He tried to help me learning..." (implied: the English language) It is obviously wrong and I corrected it ...
9
votes
6answers
28k views

Is there a difference between “way of doing something” and “way to do something”?

Is there a difference between "way of doing something" and "way to do something"? It is on purpose that I did not write "a way of doing something" or "the way of doing something" and "a way to do ...
9
votes
2answers
646 views

Gerund? Infinitive? Why, when we talk about jobs, do we say “I have a job taking people on tours” instead of “I have a job to take people on tours”?

I'm teaching English in China. I wanted middle school or younger, but I was put with some great high school kids and they sometimes ask me questions that I don't know how to answer yet. I'm a native ...
8
votes
5answers
12k views

Are modal verbs finite or non-finite?

According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, finite ... 2 Grammar (of a verb form) having a specific tense, number, and person. non-finite ... Grammar (of a verb form) not limited by tense, ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Dare + have done

Here is an example from an old book. I know it’s old but it can’t be simply discarded, I hope. "I never dare have spoken — never dare have told you that my love for you was killing me" So, I ...
8
votes
2answers
5k views

Consecutive infinitives

Is there a rule governing when it is acceptable to position two infinitives in a row? E.g.: The witness plans to refuse to testify.
8
votes
5answers
17k views

“How best to handle” vs. “how to best handle”

Are there rules on the placement of 'best'? They are deciding how to best handle the matter. They are deciding how best to handle the matter. Is one of them wrong?
8
votes
1answer
42k views

Help + Noun + Gerund or Infinitive

Help my sister peel oranges. Help my sister to peel oranges. Help my sister peeling oranges. Help my sister with peeling oranges. Which of the above is/are correct, and why are the others incorrect?
8
votes
3answers
24k views

“I don't bother to do” vs “I don't bother doing”

Which one of these sentences is correct? I don't bother to study. I don't bother studying.
8
votes
2answers
583 views

Pseudo-cleft sentences with the verbs of perception

I know we must use bare infinitives with these verbs in the Active. e.g. I saw a lady cross the street. There are other verbs with which we are supposed to use a bare infinitive in the Active. e.g. ...
8
votes
0answers
302 views

Did prescriptivists make up pied-piping in relative infinitive constructions?

A quick Internet search suggests that pied-piping in relative clauses was a natural feature of English even though it is loved by prescriptivists; it existed in older stages of the language, and it ...
8
votes
0answers
450 views

Infinitive without “to”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the correct way to use infinitive after the verb “help”: with or without “to”? Today I found this headline on bbc.co.uk How one family is ...
7
votes
5answers
7k views

“I am thinking to invest” or “I am thinking investing”?

Which of the following sentences is correct? I am thinking to invest in stocks. I am thinking investing into stocks.
7
votes
3answers
46k views

“Stop working” vs “stopped to work”

I want to know, is there any difference between "stop + v.(ing)" and "stopped to + v.". These are example sentences. I stop working for a month. vs I stopped to work for a month. I stop watching ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Catenatives followed by infinitives and gerunds

What is the difference in meaning when the catenative verb “like” is followed by an infinitive, or by a gerund? For example: Do you like ski jumping? vs. Do you like to ski jump? Also, what ...
7
votes
3answers
8k views

Infinitive without to: The first thing I do is open my eyes

I have not been able to find an explanation for this use of an infinitive without to: The first thing I do in the morning is go to the bathroom. The first thing I do in the morning is open my ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

Is 'I would rather…' without an infinitive immediately following it correct?

Consider: I would rather the walls remain painted in a neutral tint. Is this proper use of 'I would rather..', without an infinitive immediately following it? EDIT This suggests that 'I would ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Do I need a “to” for a second infinitive in a sentence?

It was common practice to first test and execute a program's source code by hand before using a computer. It was common practice to first test and to execute a program's source code by hand ...
7
votes
1answer
4k views

How do I know when a verb should be followed by a gerund or an infinitive?

A few weeks ago I posted a question about the usage of a verbal in a particular sentence. But now, I have another question on the same topic, gerund. Sometimes I don't know for sure if I need to use ...
7
votes
8answers
12k views

Can 'in which to' and 'with which to' be replaced by just 'to' in the following sentences?

All of these factors make them an ideal population in which to test these competing hypotheses about how language is learned. in which to? These children began learning English at an older ...
7
votes
1answer
662 views

Subject-control verbs

I have been studying Raising and Controlling, but it seems quite hard to understand its function and uses. I would like any of you to analyze this explanation and tell me whether I got it correct or ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

“to” between substantive and infinitive

I have the following simple sentence: This is the file to download. I know what this sentence means (This is the file that shall be downloaded.). However, I believe that this paraphrase depends on ...