Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to recognise the infinitive

In today's post, I will deal with the infinitive. An infinitive is a word which always begin with the 'to'. Examples are to run, to sing, and to live. Sometimes, you can see the to which they are behind certain verbs such as make, let, watch, help, hear, feel and see. Here are sentences with infinitives without the 'to':
1 The teacher made the naughty pupil stand on his chair for misbehaving in class.
2 I let him touch my pet rabbit.
3 She watched her dog run over by a speeding car.
4 They helped him sweep the compound.
5 He heard his sister scream in the room.
6 I felt a leech creep up my leg and shook it off vigorously.
7 We saw him fall into a drain.

Occasionally, the infinitives are used after other verbs such as recommend and suggest. Look at the following examples to see whether you can spot the infinitive in each sentence.
1 My employer recommended that I take a rest as I looked very tired.
2 Johan suggested at the meeting yesterday that we go for a holiday.

The infinitive in the first sentence is 'take'. As an infinitive is not a verb it has only one form. Hence although 'recommended' is in the past tense, you still use 'take' in the present tense (its original form).
As for the second sentence, the infinitive is 'go'. The same reason warrants the use of the 'go' and not went though the finite verb 'suggested' is in the past tense.

So much for the infinitives for today's post.

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