Properties and functions of the infinitive

Properties and functions of the infinitive

The infinitive has some properties of the verb.

The infinitive names an action (to drive a car) or state (to be sick).

Like verbs the infinitive has the category of voice: active and passive forms (to take; to be taken); the category of tense: present, past and future; and the category of aspect: continuous and perfect…. but cannot show person, number, or mood.

The infinitive has some properties of the noun and can be in the function of the subject (To quit now would be a mistake) or of an object (He likes to sing; She asked me to wait). The infinitive can be in the function of an attribute (He has no desire to see them).

The infinitive can function as an adverbial modifier of purpose (He came here to study) or as an adverbial modifier of consequence (He was too tired to go to the cinema).

Use of particle "to"

As a rule, the infinitive is preceded by the particle "to".

The particle "to" is omitted after modal verbs (You can go; You must take it), after the verbs "make, let" (Make him eat; Let her play), after the verb "help" in American English (Help me find my book), and in constructions like "She saw him leave; He heard her sing". The infinitive without the particle "to" is called bare infinitive. 1. After the auxiliary verbs:

e.g. I don’t understand the meaning of this passage.

If the verbs "make, help, see, hear" in such constructions are used in the passive voice, the infinitive after them keeps the particle "to": He was made to leave. She was helped to do it.

If there are two infinitives next to each other connected by "and, or, but, except, than", the second infinitive is often used without "to": I told him to sit down and rest. She didn't know whether to go or stay. There was nothing to do but wait. There is nothing for him to do but watch TV. It's easier to type than write.

But it is often necessary to repeat "to" before the second infinitive for clarity, especially in longer infinitive phrases: I told him to sit down on the sofa and to rest a little.

The particle "to" is often used without the infinitive at the end of the sentence if the infinitive is clearly mentioned earlier in the sentence: He asks me to do this work, but I don't want to.


The Gerund

The gerund is a non-finite form of the verb. The other non-finite verb forms are the infinitive and the participle.

Forms of gerund

Gerunds are formed from verbs by adding ING: be – being; go – going; play – playing; talk – talking; write – writing. Gerunds can be formed from most verbs (except modal verbs).

The gerund has the following forms: simple active (asking, writing); perfect (having asked, having written); passive (being asked, being written); perfect passive (having been asked, having been written). These forms are also called "simple gerund (or simple ing-form); perfect gerund; passive gerund; perfect passive gerund".

The simple active form and the passive form usually express an action that is simultaneous with the action expressed by the main verb. The perfect form and the perfect passive form express an action that precedes the action expressed by the main verb.

Forms of gerund: Examples and notes on usage

Asking questions is his hobby. (asking – simple form)

I completely forgot having asked him to wait for me there. (having asked – perfect form)

She doesn't like being asked such questions. (being asked – passive form)

He could not remember ever having been asked to do such a thing. (having been asked – perfect passive form)

Perfect forms

The simple active form of the gerund is often used instead of the perfect form in those cases where it is not necessary to stress that the action expressed by the gerund precedes the action expressed by the main verb (provided that the context is clear). For example:

I remember asking her about it. I don't remember being asked about it. He mentioned reading it in a magazine. He thanked them for inviting him. He apologized for losing my book.

Passive forms

After the verbs "need, require, want" in the meaning "need cleaning, repairing, improving" and after the adjective "worth", the active form of the gerund is used, not the passive form. (The infinitive in the same meaning is used in the passive form after these verbs. The infinitive is not used after the adjective "worth".) For example:

The house needs painting. This lock needs repairing. His car requires painting. Your coat wants cleaning. (Infinitive: His car needs to be painted / to be repaired / to be cleaned.) This book is worth reading.

Properties and functions of gerunds

The gerund names an action or state and functions as a noun.

The gerund has some properties of the verb. Like verbs, gerunds have active, passive, and perfect forms (sending, being sent, having sent, having been sent), can take a direct object (He likes watching films), and can be modified by an adverb (He is used to working late).

The gerund has some properties of the noun and can function as the subject (Swimming is good for health), as a predicative noun (His hobby is travelling), as an object (He enjoys reading), as an attribute (The risk of losing money scares him), and as an adverbial modifier (He called her before leaving).


The Geographical Position of Great Britain

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on two large islands called the British Isles.They lie to the north-west of Europe. The country is washed by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea and the Irish Sea. Great Britain is separated from the continent by the English Channel. The territory of Great Britain is divided into four parts: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


The total area of the U.K. is 244.00 square kilometers with a population of 56 million. It is one of the most populated countries in the world. The largest cities of the country are London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.


The surface of the country is much varied. Great Britain is the country of valleys and plains.

The mountains in Britain are not very high.

The insular geographical position of Great Britain promoted the development of shipbuilding, different trading contacts with other countries.


It is washed by seas from all the sides. That’s why the climate and the nature of Great Britain are very specific. It rains very often in all the seasons. The weather changes very often. Besides, Britain is famous for its fogs.

Sometimes fogs are so thick that it is impossibleto see anything within 2 or 3 metres.



e.g. I saw her cross the street.

The relation between the noun (or pronoun) and the infinitive is similar to that of object and predicate. In the sentence e.g. I saw her cross the street two things are predicated: the first predication is “I saw” and the second – “her cross”. The two elements “her” and “cross” are closely connected and syntactically form a complex object. The latter is used:

A) with verbs expressing physical (sense) perception

To see (to notice, to watch, to observe), to hear, to smell, to taste, to feel

e.g. I heard her sing in the next room.

NOTE! When the verbs to see (in the meaning of “to understand”), to hear(in the meaning of “to be told, to learn”), to feel (in the meaning of “to have an opinion”) express mental perception they can not be followed by a complex object, but require an object clause:

e.g. I see that you don’t understand. I heard that you had been looking for a flat.

NOTE! After the verbs to see and to notice the Objective with the Infinitive Construction is not used with the verb to be: a subordinate clause is used in such cases:

e.g. I saw that she was pale.

B) with verbs denoting permission, request, order, compulsion

To allow, to permit, to let, to request, to ask, to order,

To command, to force, to cause, to make, to insist

e.g. He ordered a taxi to come at 9 o’clock. The teacher let me go home.

C) with verbs expressing wish, intension, liking and disliking

To want, to wish, to intend, to desire, to love, to like,

To prove, to know, to believe, to understand, to think,

Properties and functions of the infinitive

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