Home » [Update] Infinitives: What Is An Infinitive? Functions & Examples • 7ESL | verb+infinitive – NATAVIGUIDES

[Update] Infinitives: What Is An Infinitive? Functions & Examples • 7ESL | verb+infinitive – NATAVIGUIDES

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Infinitives! What is an infinitive? Learn infinitive definition and when to use infinitives in English with useful grammar rules, video, example sentences, and ESL worksheet.

What Is An Infinitive?

What is an infinitive? An infinitive is a verbal consisting of to + a verb, and it acts like a subject, direct object, subject complement, adjective, or adverb in a sentence. Infinitives are easy to identify because they’re written with to + a verb.

Infinitive examples:

  • To give
  • To run
  • To wait

Although an infinitive is easy to locate because of the to + verb form, deciding what function it has in a sentence can sometimes be confusing.

Keep in mind that though infinitives are verbs, they function differently from verbs, and instead, they act as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

Here are examples:

  • I desire to study alone.

Here the verb is “desire” and “to study” is the infinitive.

“To study” is the direct object of “desire” since it’s the receiver of the action of the verb.

Here the infinitive functions as a noun.

  • We can only extend our conversation if we have something in common to share.

It tells more information about the noun “conversation.”

Here conversation can only be extended if there is something common to share.

Here the infinitive “to share” functions as an adjective.

  • John left school early to join her mum’s birthday celebrations.

“To join” is the infinitive phrase.

The infinitive phrase describes more information as to why John left school early.

In other words, it modifies “left,” which is the verb.

In this sentence, the infinitive acts as an adverb.

Infinitives as Nouns

Keep in mind that a noun can be a person, place, or thing. When used as a subject or direct object in a sentence, an infinitive phrase acts as a noun. In such a case, the subject assumes the role of a verb, whereas the direct object is the receiver of the action of a verb.


  • I like to watch movies alone.

Here “like” is the verb.

“To watch” is the infinitive as it receives the action of the verb (to be liked).

“To watch” acts as a direct object of the sentence.

Here, the infinitive acts as a noun that expresses a thought.

  • To join hands with others is necessary.

In this sentence, “is” is the verb and “to join” is the infinitive as it answers the question about what is so necessary?

Here the infinitive phrase “to join” is the subject of the sentence.

This is an indication that the infinitive acts as a noun in this example.

Infinitives as Adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes more information about a noun. An infinitive act as an adjective if it modifies or describes a noun in a sentence.


  • Joyce needs a table to read on.

Here “needs” is the verb, and “table” is the subject (noun).

“To read” is the infinitive, and it acts as an adjective.

Infinitives as Adverbs

An adverb is a word that modifies or describes an adjective, verb, or an adverb. It provides additional information regarding an adjective, verb, or adverb. At times, adverbs can answer the question “why.”

Here is an example:

  • The mourners were surprised to hear that the deceased had resurrected.

Here “to hear” is the infinitive. It gives additional information about the adjective “surprised.”

When to Use Infinitives?

We use the infinitive:

To Indicate the Purpose of an Action

Infinitive examples:

  • He bought some flowers to give to his wife.
  • I will lock the door to prevent theft.

As the Subject of the Sentence


  • To wait seemed foolish when decisive action was required.
  • To swim in that sea may be dangerous.

As the Direct Object of the Sentence

Infinitive examples:

  • I like to write in English.
  • Everyone wanted to go.

As Subject Complement


  • His ambition is to fly.
  • What is essential is to maintain a healthy diet.

As an Adjective

Infinitive verb examples:

  • This is the best time to practice.
  • I have some jeans to wash.

As an Adverb


  • We must carefully observe to understand.
  • I can’t wait to see.

After an Adjective

Subject + to be + adjective + (for/of someone) + to-infinitive + (rest of sentence)


  • It is important to be patient.
  • It is wonderful to have close friends.

After an Object that Is a Noun or Pronoun Referring to a Person

Infinitive examples:

  • Can I ask you to help me with something?
  • I invited a friend to attend the ceremony.

Used with the Question Word


  • Do you understand what to do?
  • Tell me when to press the button.

How to Use Infinitives with Examples | Picture

Infinitives! What is an infinitive? Learn infinitive definition and when to use infinitives in English with useful grammar rules, video, example sentences and ESL worksheet. Pin

Infinitive Verb List

Learn a useful list of Verbs Followed by Infinitives in English with examples.


       Hold on for a minute, I’ve just got to put on my makeup.


I hesitate to spend so much money on clothes.


I hope to see you again soon.


We’ll have to hurry to catch the last train.


I heard they intend to marry.


Children learn to creep ere they can go.


Ancient people like to have a declaration before war.


Men love to hear well of themselves.


Did you manage to catch the post?


I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.


Don’t neglect to lock the door when you leave.


You need to change your eating habits.

Infinitives: What Is An Infinitive? Functions & Examples 2Pin


She offered to help me move my things to my new house.


Next year I plan to travel around the world.


Would you prefer to live in the country instead of a town?


The doctor prepared to prescribe a receipt.


She was pretending to cry. I knew she was lying.


They will proceed to build another laboratory building.


He promised to collect her from the airport.


We propose to deal with this subject in the following chapter.


She refused to answer questions about her personal finances.


He had remembered to bring a pair of gloves, unlike me.


I always seem to be unlucky at cards.


The child started to sob when he couldn’t find his mother.


I’m working in the garden and I stop to smoke.


He struggled to keep his footing on the slippery floor.


Do you swear to tell the whole truth?


They threatened to ban the book.


We tried to confuse the enemy.


They volunteer to teach introductory courses.


I can’t wait to see you.


I want to watch TV.


Bare Infinitives

The zero (bare) infinitive is a type of complement with an infinitive verb form that’s not preceded by the particle to. Also known as the bare infinitive.

Infinitives: What Is An Infinitive? Functions & Examples 3Pin

[NEW] Infinitive: Definition and Examples | verb+infinitive – NATAVIGUIDES

1. What is an infinitive?

An infinitive is a verb that functions as a noun, adjective, or adverb in order to express an opinion, purpose of an object or action, or answer the questions who, what, or why.

An infinitive usually begins with the word “to” and is followed by the base form of a verb (the simple form of the verb that you would find in the dictionary).

Examples of infinitives include to read, to run, to jump, to play, to sing, to laugh, to cry, to eat, and to go.

Remember that although infinitives are verbs, they do not function as verbs, instead they are used as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. Let’s look at some examples.

Infinitives as Nouns

Remember that a noun is a person, place, or thing. When an infinitive is used as the subject or direct object in a sentence, it functions as a noun.

The sentence’s subject performs the verb, while the sentence’s direct object receives the verb.

Example 1:

I love to sleep.

  • In this sentence, the verb is “love.”
  • Who or what receives the action of being loved? The infinitive “to sleep.”
  • This makes “to sleep” the direct object of the sentence.
  • In this case, the infinitive functions as a noun that expresses an opinion. It could be replaced with a person, place, or thing, as in, “I love pizza.”

Example 2:

To help others is so important.

  • In this example, we have the verb “is.”
  • Who or what is so important? The infinitive “To help.”
  • In this case, the infinitive “to help” is the sentence’s subject.
  • This means that the infinitive functions as a noun in this sentence.


2. Examples of Infinitives

Example 1

I really need to eat something.

  • In this sentence, the verb is “need.”
  • Who or what do I need? The infinitive “to eat.”
  • “To eat” is the direct object of “need” because it receives the action.
  • This is an example of an infinitive being used as a noun.

Example 2

We can’t play until we find a ball to throw.

  • What is the purpose of the infinitive “to throw” in this sentence?
  • It describes the noun “ball.” We don’t need just any ball, we need a ball “to throw.”
  • Here, the infinitive is used as an adjective.

Example 3

Brenda left the camping trip early to recover from poison ivy.

  • The infinitive in this example is “to recover.”
  • What is the purpose of “to recover” in this sentence?
  • It gives us more information about why Brenda left the trip early. It modifies the verb “left.”
  • In this example, the infinitive functions as an adverb.

Example 4

Mom made my brother clean his room.

  • This sentence uses the verb “made,” followed by the direct object “brother.”
  • When the verb “made” is followed by an infinitive, the infinitive loses the “to.”
  • It would be incorrect to write, “Mom made my brother to clean,” or, “Mom made to clean.”
  • For this reason, the direct object is followed by the infinitive “clean” without the “to.”


3. Infinitives as Adjectives

An adjective is a word that modifies (adds to or describes) a noun. So infinitives function as adjectives when they modify or describe nouns in a sentence.


Joel wants a book to read.

  • In this sentence, the verb is “wants” and the subject is the noun “book.”
  • We also see the infinitive “to read.” What is the purpose of “to read” in this sentence?
  • It describes the book; Joel isn’t looking for just any book, he’s looking for a book to read.
  • In this sentence, the infinitive functions as an adjective.


4. Infinitives as Adverbs

Adverbs modify or describe adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs. They provide additional information about what, where, how, and to what extent or degree. Sometimes adverbs also answer the question, “Why?”

Infinitives function as adverbs when they are used to give more information about adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs in the sentence.

Example 1:

The students were excited to go on a field trip.

  • In this sentence, the infinitive is “to go.”
  • What is the purpose of “to go” in this sentence?
  • The infinitive “to go” gives us more information about the adjective “excited”; it tells us what the students were excited about (going on a field trip).
  • In this case, the infinitive functions as an adverb.

Example 2:

Mom is going to the store to buy dinner.

  • In this sentence, the infinitive is “to buy.”
  • What’s the purpose of “to buy” in this example?
  • The infinitive “to buy” gives us more information about the verb “going”; it tells us why Mom is going to the store (to buy dinner).
  • This is another example of how infinitives can function as adverbs.


5. Infinitives Without “To”

Almost always, infinitives begin with “to.” But infinitives lose the “to” when they follow these verbs:

  • Feel
  • Hear
  • Help
  • Let
  • Make
  • See
  • Watch

These verbs are followed by a direct object, then by an infinitive without the “to.”

Example 1:

When I heard the alarm clock ring, I knew it was time to get up.

  • This sentence uses the verb “heard” followed by the direct object, “alarm clock.”
  • When infinitives follow the verb “heard,” they lose the “to.” We wouldn’t say, “I heard the alarm clock to ring,” or, “I heard to ring.”
  • So, “alarm clock” is followed by the infinitive “ring” without the “to.”
  • For this reason, this sentence correctly uses the infinitive without the “to.”

Example 2:

My mom helps me do my homework.

  • This sentence uses the verb “helps” followed by the direct object “me.”
  • When infinitives follow “helps,” they drop the “to.” In English, it doesn’t sound correct to write, “My mom helps me to do my homework,” or, “My mom helps to do.”
  • So, “me” is followed by the infinitive “do” without the “to.”
  • This is another correct example of using an infinitive without the word “to.”


6. Can You Split Infinitives?

Usually, no other word should come between “to” and the base verb that follows it. When this does happen, you get a split infinitive.

For example, you might say:

Ryan hopes to quickly eat his dinner so he won’t miss his favorite show.

In this case, the word “quickly” splits the infinitive “to eat.”

Some English teachers will tell you that you should never split an infinitive, while others might tell you that it’s okay, especially in informal writing. When in doubt, simply avoid splitting the infinitive.

In the example above, you could avoid splitting the infinitive by instead writing:

Ryan hopes to eat his dinner quickly so he won’t miss his favorite show.

Remember that infinitives are formed with the word to + the base form of a verb. Although infinitives are formed using verbs, they don’t function as verbs in a sentence. Instead, infinitives can function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.

Basic English Grammar: Giving reasons with infinitives

Simple English grammar lesson: An infinitive is when you have “to” plus a base verb. For example: “to make”, “to eat”, and “to be” are all infinitives. In this video, you will learn how to use infinitives when answering questions about why someone does something. For example, if someone asks, “Why are you going to the store?” you might reply, “To buy food.” Notice that we use the infinitive “to buy” to answer the question “why”. Watch the video to learn this very simple but effective formula to give a reason for something. I will also teach you about the expression “in order to”, which is also a very effective way to give a reason for something. I will show you how and when to use it, so you will always know how to answer basic questions in English. Then, test your understanding of the lesson by taking the quiz at https://www.engvid.com/basicenglishgrammargivingreasonswithinfinitives/

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Basic English Grammar: Giving reasons with infinitives


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Like + Verb-ING, Like + Infinitive, Enjoy + Verb-ING

In this English grammar lesson we look at what verb goes after LIKE.
First we learn about infinitives (to + verb) and when two verbs are together, the second verb is in the infinitive.
We then look at how we can use an infinitive after like as well as a verb ending in ING.
Like + infinitive … OR … Like + VerbING
We learn the main difference between these two ways of using a verb after like.
We look at similar \”liking\” verbs such as love, hate, don’t like, enjoy that can also use a verbing after them.
Next we see how after the verb ENJOY we can ONLY use a verb ending in ING.
Then we learn how to make negatives sentences with LIKE + Verbing as well as questions.
All of these sections include example sentences and questions.
At the end there are two questions that viewers should answer.
See our complete lesson about LIKE + VerbING here:
Infinitives EnglishGrammar VerbING
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Like + Verb-ING, Like + Infinitive, Enjoy + Verb-ING

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Infinitive form of verbs

Today we are going to look again at one of your comments, this time about grammar and the infinitive form of verbs.
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Don says: I don’t even get why it is called ‘to be’. That sounds like something is going ‘to be’ in the future, but they used it to make a general statement in the present like ‘I am’. Why is is called ‘to be’ in the literal sense.
Good question Don and the verb ‘to be’ is THE most irregular verb in english and in other languages too. When you say why is it called ‘to be’? Well this is the infinitive form and when we talk about verbs in this way, we always use the infinitive form, with ‘to’, like it is their name. This is true for all verbs.
It is easy to get confused with the ‘going to’ future form but in this case it is not infinitive because the ‘to’ belongs to the auxiliary verb, going. Thats how I think of it anyway.
We use the infinitive form of a verb when it is not the main action but the object of the main verb. For example:
I want to eat pizza. or
I want to be happy.
In the first example the main verb is want, to eat is the object.
Or we can use the ‘infinitive of purpose’ to say why we do something. For example:
I go to work to earn money.
I swim to be healthy.
to earn money and to be healthy are the reasons we go to work and swim.
So the infinitive form is used as the name of a verb and the to… form is not always the infinitive, it depends on the context.
I hope that was helpful Don, Do you have any problems with other irregular verbs or difficult verb forms? Let me know in the comments.
I am going to be making more grammar videos soon so if you haven’t already, you should check out some of my other videos and subscribe to my youtube channel and mailing list via the website, to keep up to date with new videos and features from me and The English Language Club. It would also be really helpful if you “Like” and ‘share’ this video on the social media.
Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time.

Infinitive form of verbs

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