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NON-FINITE FORMS OF THE VERB (VERBALS)
§ 95. There are four non-finite forms of the verb in English: the infinitive (to take), the gerund (taking), participle I (taking), participle II (taken). These forms possess some verbal and some non-verbal features. The main verbal feature of the infinitive and participles I and II is that it can be used as part of analytical verbal forms (is standing, is built, have come, will do, etc.)
Lexically non-finites do not differ from finite forms. Grammatically the difference between the two types of forms lies in the fact that non-finites may denote a secondary action or a process related to that expressed by the finite verb.
Non-finites possess the verb categories of voice, perfect, and aspect. They lack the categories of person, number, mood, and tense.
None of the forms have morphological features of non-verbal parts of speech, neither nominal, adjectival or adverbial. In the sphere of syntax, however, non-finites possess both verbal and non-verbal features. Their non-verbal character reveals itself in their syntactical functions. Thus, the infinitive and the gerund perform the main syntactical functions of the noun, which are those of subject, object and predicative. Participle I functions as attribute, predicative and adverbial modifier; participle II as attribute and predicative. They cannot form a predicate by themselves, although unlike non-verbal parts of speech they can function as part of a compound verbal predicate.
Syntactically the verbal character of non-finites is manifested mainly in their combinability. Similarly to finite forms they may combine with nouns functioning as direct, indirect, or prepositional objects, with adverbs and prepositional phrases used as adverbial modifiers, and with subordinate clauses.
Non-finites may also work as link verbs, combining with nouns, adjectives or statives as predicatives, as in: to be/being a doctor (young, afraid). They may also act as modal verb semantic equivalents when combined with an infinitive: to have/having to wait, to be able/being able to stay. So the structure of a non-finite verb group resembles the structure of any verb phrase.
All non-finite verb forms may participate in the so-called predicative constructions, that is, two-component syntactical units where a noun or a pronoun and a non-finite verb form are in predicative relations similar to those of the subiect and the predicate: I heard Jane singing; We waited for the train to pass; I saw him run, etc.
§ 96. The infinitive is a non-finite form of the verb which names a process in a most general way. As such, it is naturally treated as the initial form of the verb, which represents the verb in dictionaries (much in the same way as the common case singular represents the noun).
In all its forms and functions the infinitive has a special marker, the particle to. The particle to is generally used with the infinitive stem and is so closely connected with it that does not commonly allow any words to be put between itself and the stem. Occasionally, however, an adverb or particle may be inserted between them:
She doesn’t want to even see me once more.
The infinitive thus used is called the split infinitive, and is acceptable only to give special emphasis to the verb.
Although the particle to is very closely connected with the infinitive, sometimes the bare infinitive stem is used. The cases where the infinitive loses its marker are very few in number.
Like other non-finite forms of the verb the infinitive has a double nature: it combines verbal features with those of the noun.
The verbal features of the infinitive are of two kinds: morphological and syntactical.
1) Morphological: the infinitive has the verb categories of voice, perfect and aspect:
The evening is the time to praise the day. (active)
To be praised for what one has not done was bad enough. (passive)
She did not intend to keep me long, she said. (non-perfect)
I am so distressed to have kept you waiting, (perfect)
She promised to bring the picture down in the course of ten minutes. (common)
At that time I happened to be bringing him some of the books borrowed from him two days before,
2) Syntactical: the infinitive possesses the verb combinability:
a) it takes an object in the same way as the corresponding finite verbs do;
b)it takes a predicative if it happens to be a link verb;
c) it is modified by adverbials in the same way as finite verbs:
The nominal features of the infinitive are revealed only in its function:
To understand is to forgive. (subject, predicative)
That’s what I wanted to know. (object)
I saw the chance to escape into the garden. (attribute)
I merely came back to water the roses, (adverbial modifier of purpose)
The Grammatical Categories of the Infinitive
§ 97. As has already been stated the infinitive has three grammatical categories, those of perfect, voice, and aspect.
The system of grammatical categories of the infinitive is shown in the table below.
It is seen from the table, that the passive voice is found only with transitive verbs and there are no perfect continuous forms in the passive voice. As for the non-perfect continuous passive, forms similar to the one in brackets, do sometimes occur, although they are exceptionally rare.
The category of perfect
§ 98. The category of perfect finds its expression, as with other verb forms, in the opposition of non-perfect and perfect forms.
The non-perfect infinitive denotes an action simultaneous with that of the finite verb (I am glad to take part in it, I am glad to be invited there),
The perfect infinitive always denotes an action prior to that of the finite verb - the predicate of the sentences. The meaning of priority is invariable with the perfect and perfect continuous infinitive.
The non-perfect infinitive is vaguer and more flexible in meaning and its meaning may easily be modified by the context. Thus, it may denote an action preceding or following the action denoted by the finite verb. It expresses succession, that is indicates that the action follows the action denoted by the finite verb, as in the following cases:
1) When used as an adverbial modifier of purpose:
She bit her lip to keep back a smile.
I came here to help you, not to quarrel with you.
2) When used as part of a compound verbal predicate:
You must do it at once.
You know, she is beginning to learn eagerly.
3) When used as an object of a verb of inducement:
He ordered the man to come at three.
She always asks me to help her when she is busy.
He will make you obey.
The category of aspect
§ 99. The category of aspect finds its expression in contrasting forms of the common aspect and the continuous aspect. The difference between the category of aspect in finite verb forms and in the infinitive is that in the infinitive it is consistently expressed only in the active voice:
The passive voice has practically no aspect oppositions. (See Table IV). The semantics of the category of aspect in the infinitive is the same as in the finite verb: the continuous aspect forms denote an action in progress at some moment of time in the present, past, or future; the meaning of the common aspect forms is flexible and is easily modified by the context.
The two aspects differ in their frequency and functioning; the continuous aspect forms are very seldom used and cannot perform all the functions in which the common aspect forms are used. They can function only as:
1) subject (To be staying with them was a real pleasure.);
2) object (I was glad to be waking.)
3) part of a compound verbal predicate (Now they must be getting back; The leaves begin to be growing yellowish.)
The continuous aspect forms do not occur in the function of adverbial - modifiers and attributes.
The category of voice
§ 100. The infinitive of transitive verbs has the category of voice, similar to all other verb forms:
The active infinitive points out that the action is directed from the subject (either expressed or implied), the passive infinitive indicates that the action is directed to the subject:
However, there are cases where the active form of the non-perfect infinitive denotes an action directed towards the subject, that is although active in form it is passive in meaning:
His to blame.
The house is to let.
The question is difficult to answer.
There was only one thing to do.
The active infinitive thus used is called retroactive.
The retroactive infinitive is rather productive although in nearly all cases it can be replaced by the corresponding passive form:
He is to blame —> He is to be blamed.
There was only one thing to do ——> There was only one thing to be done.
Syntactical functions of the infinitive
§ 101. The infinitive performs almost all syntactical functions characteristic of the noun, although in each of them it has certain peculiarities of its own. In all syntactical functions the infinitive may be used:
1) alone, that is, without any words depending on it:
She would like to dance.
2) as the headword of an infinitive phrase, that is, with one or more words depending on it:
She would like to dance with him tonight.
3) as part of an infinitive predicative construction, that is, as a logical predicate to some nominal element denoting the logical subject of the infinitive:
She would like him to dance with her.
She waited for him to dance first.
As to the functioning of single infinitives and infinitive phrases, they are identical in this respect and therefore will be used without distinction in illustrations. However it should be noted that in fact the infinitive phrase is much more common than the single infinitive.
The infinitive as subject
§ 102. The infinitive functioning as subject may either precede the predicate or follow it. In the latter case it is introduced by the so-called introductory it, which is placed at the beginning of the sentence:
To be good is to be in harmony with oneself.
It’s so silly to be fussy and jealous.
The second of these structural patterns is more common than the first, and the subject in this pattern is more accentuated (compare for example: It’s impossible to do it and To do it is impossible). The other difference is that in the second case the sentence can be both declarative and interrogative, while in the first one the sentence can only be declarative:
The infinitive subject in both structural patterns is a “to” - infinitive. If there are two or more homogeneous infinitive subjects in a sentence, all of them keep the particle to:
To be alone, to be free from the daily interests and cruelty would be happiness to Asako.
It was awfully difficult to do or even to say nothing at all.
The function of the subject can be performed by the infinitive of any voice, aspect and perfect form, although the common aspect non-perfect active forms are naturally far more frequent.
To expect too much is a dangerous thing.
To be walking through the fields all alone seemed an almost impossible pleasure.
To have seen her was even a more painful experience.
To be recognized, to be greeted by some local personage afforded her a joy which was very great.
To have been interrogated in such a way was a real shock to him.
§ 103.The predicate of the subject expressed by an infinitive always takes the form of the 3rd person singular. As to its type, it is usually a compound nominal predicate with the link verb to be, although other link verbs may also occur, as well as a verbal predicate.
To acquire knowledge and to acquire it unceasingly is the first duty of the artist.
To understand is to forgive.
To talk to him bored me.
To see the struggle frightened him terribly.
To write a really good book requires more time than I have.
The infinitive as part of the predicate
The infinitive is used in predicates of several types, both nominal and verbal.
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