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The Infinitive

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.
  • to be
  • to have
  • to hold
  • to sleep
  • to dream
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.
  • I decided to go home as soon as possible.
  • We all wanted to have more English classes.
  • Wendy arranged to stay with her cousin in Miami.
  • The government ceased to provide free healthcare.
  • He managed to open the door without the key.

Indication of an Action

Verbs in the infinitive form indicate what an action is, but do not indicate anything about who is doing the action or at what point in time the action is taking place.
  • attempt – We attempted to contact him several times.
  • demand – I demand to know who said that!
  • hope – She hopes to be engaged by the end of the summer.
  • swear – Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
  • wish – Do you wish to see me cry?
  • determined – They are determined to finish the race.
The infinitive form is used after certain verbs:
  • forget, help, learn, teach, train
  • choose, expect, hope, need, offer, want, would like
  • agree, encourage, pretend, promise
  • allow, can/can't afford, decide, manage, mean, refuse
  • I forgot to get some bread.
  • Jane needs to arrive early.
  • His parents encouraged him to learn English?
  • We can't afford to buy a car.

The infinitive as verbal complement.

This is the most common use of the infinitive.  The infinitive is found in many verbal complements, and notably after the following verbs (among others):
  • Want, wish, have, ought, like, need, hope, expect, fail, pretend, refuse, demand, apply, agree, try.
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