Infinitive and Infinitive Phrases


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Infinitive and Infinitive Phrase




An INFINITIVE is a verb form that becomes an adjective, adverb, or noun in a sentence.  Infinitives must (except in the case of a split infinitive) with the word TO followed by a VERB.


              To    +    Verb    =     Infinitive


              To    +     walk   =     to walk


  • Infinitives can appear anywhere in a sentence.
  • Infinitives can be subjects, objects of prepositions, direct objects, etc.
  • Infinitives may have a comma associated with it or not.  It depends how the infinitive is being used.


Steps in finding the infinitive:


  • Read the sentence
  • Look for TO plus a verb.





  • To eat is necessary to live.

[to pluse eat  =  to eat (infinitive)]

[to plus live   =   to live (infinitive)]


  • Ingrid told us to go to the store.

[There is no infinitive.  To the store is a prepositional phrase.  ***Remember, an infinitive is TO +  VERB!]




An INFINITIVE PHRASE starts with an infinitive and to that infinitive can be added prepositional phrases, adjective, and adverbs. 


***An infinitive phrase may or may not employ the use of commas.  It all depends how the infinitive is being used in a sentence.


Steps in finding the infinitive phrase:


  • Read the sentence first.
  • Look for TO +  VERB.
  • When you find the infinitive, add any phrases and modifiers that logically fit with that infinitive.  TRUST your ears!




  • To run a mile a day is very good exercise.

[The infinitive is TO RUN---a mile a day fits logically with the infinitive.  It all sounds like it fits together.  So the infinitive phrase is:  To run a mile a day is very good exercise.


  • Toni told us to go into the garage now!

[The infinitive phrase is to go into the garage now!]


A split infinitive happens when the writer adds and adverb between the TO and the verb.  The writer SPLIT the infinitive in two.




  • To boldly go where no human has gone before.

[The adverb boldly splits the infinitive in half.]



Find the infinitive phrases:


  • The doctor told us to go into the lab.


  • To talk all the time prevents you from listening.


  • Ryan, to get the point across to us, showed us how to use chop sticks correctly so that we wouldn’t insult our Japanese hosts.


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