The infinitive as part of a compound verbal predicate

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The infinitive as part of a compound verbal predicate


The infinitive is used in compound verbal predicates of three types.


I. In a compound verbal modal predicate after the modal verbs can, may, might, ought, must, shall, should, will, would, need, dare, to be, to have, and expressions with modal meaning had better, would rather.


I dare tell you the truth about him.

She might have told me before.


II. In a compound verbal phasal predicate after verbs denoting various stages of the action, such as its beginning, continuation, or end. These verbs (to begin, to come, to start, to continue, to go on, to cease, etc.) followed by a “to”-infinitive form a compound verbal phasal predicate.


Now I start to believe you.

Then she continued to work.

They went on reading.


The verbs to begin, to continue and to start can also be followed by a gerund, although with a certain difference in meaning. Thus the verb to stop followed by a gerund means to put an end to an action, to interrupt, whereas followed by an infinitive means to pause in order to do something. So the infinitive after the verb to stop is used in the function of an adverbial modifier of purpose.


He stopped to have breakfast. Он остановился, чтобы позавтракать. He stopped having breakfast. Он прервал завтрак.


The Infinitive as the compound verbal predicate of double orientation.

The compound verbal predicate of double orientation* has no analogy in Russian. The three subtypes of this predicate can be distinguished according to the expression of the first part:


1. The first part is expressed by one of the following intransitive verbs in the active voice: to seem - казаться; to appear - оказаться, казаться; to prove, to turn out - оказаться; to happen, to chance - случаться. After the verbs to prove and to turn out the infinitive is mostly nominal, that is presented by to be + noun or adjective. After the verbs to seem, to appear, to happen all types and forms of the infinitive are possible.

Simple sentences with this type of predicate are synonymous with complex sentences of a certain pattern:


He turned out to be deceiving. She appeared to have lost the key. It turned out that he is deceiving. It appeared that she had lost the key.  

Sentences with compound verbal predicates of double orientation are translated into Russian in different ways depending on the meaning of the first verbal element:


The strange little man seemed to read my thoughts. The man seemed to have come from France.   Nothing appeared to be happening there. Не appeared to have been running all the way. Не proved to be a healthy child. The night turned out to be cold. Don’t you happen to know her? Странный человечек, казалось, читал мои мысли. Казалось, этот человек приехал из Франции. Казалось, что здесь ничего не происходит. Казалось, что он пробежал всю дорогу бегом. Он оказался здоровым ребенком. Ночь оказалась холодной. Ты ее случайно не знаешь?


2. The first part of the predicate is expressed by the passive voice forms of certain transitive verbs. They are:


a) verbs of saying: to announce, to declare, to report, to say, to state, etc.


She was announced to be the winner. Не is said to have returned at last. Было объявлено, что победила она. Говорят, что он наконец вернулся.


b) verbs of mental activity: to believe, to consider, to expect, to find, to known, to mean, to presume,

to regard, to suppose, to think, to understand, etc.


He’s supposed to be leaving tonight.   She is believed to be a clever girl.   Her father was thought to have died long ago. Предполагают (предполагается), что он уезжает сегодня вечером. Ее считают умной девушкой. (Считается, что она умная де­вушка.) Считалось (считали, думали, полагали), что ее отец давным-давно умер.


a) verbs of sense perception: to feel, to hear, to see, to watch.


Soon he was heard to open the front door. She was often seen to walk all alone. Вскоре услышали, как он открыл парадную дверь. Часто видели, как она гуляет сов­сем одна.


d) the verb to make.

He was made to keep silent. Его заставили молчать.


3. The first part is expressed by the phrases: to be likely, to be unlikely, to be sure, to be certain. In this case only the non-perfect forms of the infinitive are used, with future reference.


She is likely to be late.

He is sure to become your friend.

They are sure to be wanted as evidence.


In all these three subtypes the “to” - infinitive is always used.


The Infinitive as object.


The infinitive can have the function of object after verbs, adjectives, adjectivized participles and statives.

After verbs the infinitive may be either the only object of a verb or one of two objects.


1. Verbs that take only one object are: to agree, to arrange, to attempt, to care (to like), to choose, to claim, to consent, to decide, to deserve, to determine, to expect, to fail, to fear, to forget, to hesitate, to hope, to intend, to learn, to like, to long, to love, to manage, to mean, to neglect, to omit, to plan, to prefer, to pretend, to refuse, to regret, to remember, to swear, to tend, etc.


She agreed to come at ten.

He planned to spend the day in town.

You’ll soon learn to read, sonny.


Among these verbs two groups can be distinguished:


a) the verbs to claim, to fail, to forget, to hate, to like, to omit, to regret, to remember, to swear, with which the perfect infinitive denotes actions prior to those of the finite verbs. It can be accounted for by the fact that semantically these verbs denote an action or state following or resulting from that of the infinitive (you can regret only what was or has been done).


I regret to have said it to her.

I remembered to have met him once.

She claims to have seen him before.


b) The verbs to attempt, to expect, to hope, to intend, to mean, to plan, to try, when followed by the perfect infinitive imply that the action of the infinitive was not fulfilled.


I hoped to have found him at home.

He intended to have reached the coast long before.


In this case the finite verb can be used only in the past tense.


Note:   As most of these verbs (item la) and b)) denote an attitude to the action expressed by the infinitive, the verb + infinitive may be treated syntactically as one whole. Thus the succes­sion of two verbs (... like to help ..., ... expect to arrive ..., ... plan to do ...) allow of two modes of analysis, as a verb + its object or as a compound verbal predicate with the first element expressing attitude.  


Besides the above-mentioned verbs there are also some rather common phrases used with the infinitive-object. They are the phrases can afford, can bear in the negative or interrogative and such phrases as to make sure, to make up one’s mind, to take care, to take the trouble.


Can you afford to buy it yourself?

I can’t bear to hear of it again.

At last he made up his mind to answer Sibyl’s letter.


2. Verbs that take two objects, the first of which is a noun or a pronoun and the second an infinitive. These are the verbs of inducement; they all have the general meaning to persuade, to cause to do something.


to advise to allow to ask to beg to cause to command to compel to direct to encourage to forbid to force to have to impel to implore to induce to instruct to invite to leave to let to make to order to permit to persuade to recommend to request to require to tell to urge


Tell him to hurry.

He asked her to keep an eye on the clock.

What would you recommend me to do?


With all these verbs, except to have, to let and to make, a “to”- infinitive is used. After the verbs to have, to let and to make it loses the particle “to”.


She’ll have you do it at once.

Don’t let it bother you.

Soon she made me see where I was wrong.


The object, which is a noun in the common case or a pronoun in the objective case, denotes a person (or, very seldom, a non-person) who is to perform the required action expressed by the infinitive.


The verb to help can be used either with one or with two objects:


She helped to pack.

She helped me to make up my mind.


In either case a “to”- infinitive or a bare infinitive can be used.


And she actually helped find it.

I’ll help you do it.


With some verbs the function of object may be performed by a conjunctive infinitive phrase. These verbs are very few in number and fall into two groups:


a) Verbs that can take either an infinitive or a conjunctive infinitive phrase as their object. These are: to advise, to decide, to forget, to learn, to remember.


They advised me to go on. He decided to begin at once. I forgot to tell you about the last incident. He advised me at last how to settle the matter. He could not decide whether to come at all. I forgot how to do it.


b) Verbs that can take only a conjunctive infinitive phrase as their object: to know, to show, to wonder.


She did not know what to say.

I know well enough where to stop.

Will you show me how to do it?


The infinitive can have the function of object after certain adjectives (adjectivized participles), mostly used as predicatives. Semantically and structurally these fall into two groups.


1. The most frequent adjectives of the first group are: anxious, apt, bound, careful, curious, determined, difficult, eager, easy, entitled, fit, free, hard, impatient, inclined, interested, keen, liable, powerless, prepared, quick, ready, reluctant, resolved, set, slow, worthy.


She’s determined to go on.

I am powerlessto do anything.

He’s fully prepared to meet them any time they choose.

I was so impatient to start.


When used with these adjectives, the infinitive denotes actions either simultaneous with, or posterior to, the states expressed by the predicates, and cannot therefore be used in perfect forms.


2. The most frequent adjectives (adjectivized participles) of the second group are: amused, annoyed, astonished, delighted, distressed, frightened, furious, glad, grateful, happy, horrified, pleased, proud, puzzled, relieved, scared, sorry, surprised, thankful, touched.


He was amused to hear it.

I’m delighted to see you again, darling.

She is proud to have grown such a son.

Mother was furiousto see them together again.


These adjectives and participles express certain psychological states which are the result of the action expressed by the infinitive object, so the latter therefore always denotes an action slightly preceding the state expressed by the predicate, and can have both non-perfect and perfect forms. The non-perfect forms are used to express immediate priority, that is, an action immediately preceding the state:


I’m glad to see you (I see you and that is why I am glad).


The perfect forms are used to show that there is a gap between the action and the resulting state.


I am glad to have seen you (I saw/have seen you and that is why I am glad).


3. After certain statives denoting psychological states, such as afraid, agog, ashamed:

He was ashamed to tell us this.

I’d be afraid to step inside a house that Rupert had designed all by himself.


In such cases the infinitive points out the source of the state expressed by the stative.


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