{\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252 {\fonttbl\f0\fnil\fcharset0 ArialMT;} {\colortbl;\red255\green255\blue255;\red51\green51\blue51;\red255\green255\blue255;} \deftab720 \pard\pardeftab720\partightenfactor0 \f0\fs26 \cf2 \cb3 \expnd0\expndtw0\kerning0 \outl0\strokewidth0 \strokec2 }
Connect
To Top

The Infinitive Marker in English Grammar

Infinitive markers are function words that distinguish the base forms from the infinitive forms of English verbs. Function words are words that perform definite grammatical functions but that lack definite lexical meaning. Only one grammatical form can perform the grammatical function of particle in the English language: the p-word to.

Infinitive Markers

Similar in form to the preposition to, the p-word to no longer performs a prepositional function but instead functions as an infinitive marker with infinitive verb phrases. The base form a verb is the dictionary entry form of the verb. The base form is identical in form to the simple present form of regular verbs in the first person, second person, and third person plural. For example:

  • jump
  • crawl
  • watch
  • pickle

Note that the base form of the only irregular English verb in the simple present is be.

The p-word to functioning as an infinitive marker distinguishes the base form from the infinitive of English verbs. For example:

  • Base Form – Infinitive
  • jump – to jump
  • crawl – to crawl
  • watch – to watch
  • pickle – to pickle
  • be – to be

Split Infinitives

Although contrary to prescriptive rules, split infinitives are grammatically acceptable in Modern English. A split infinitive occurs when another word, usually an adverb, separates the p-word to functioning as an infinitive marker from the verb, thus splitting the infinitive. For example:

  • to boldly go
  • to quickly leave
  • to not care
  • to more than triple

The p-word to performs the grammatical function of infinitive marker within infinitive verb phrases in English grammar.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

More in Grammatical Function

  • Using Adverb Clauses as Adjunct Adverbials

    Notional grammars define adverb clauses as subordinate or dependent clauses that consist of a subordinating conjunction followed by a clause and...

    Heather JohnsonJuly 4, 2014
  • Grammatical Function of English Adverb Clauses

    Adverb clauses are defined as subordinate or dependent clauses that consist of a subordinating conjunction followed by a clause and that...

    Heather JohnsonJuly 1, 2014
  • The Passive in English Grammar

    Passives are words that express the passive voice. Passives function within verb phrases functioning as predicates. Only one grammatical form can...

    Heather JohnsonMay 23, 2014
  • The Progressive in English Grammar

    Progressives are words that express the progressive aspect including the perfect-progressive aspect. Progressives function within verb phrases functioning as predicates. Only...

    Heather JohnsonMay 20, 2014
  • The Verb Phrase Modifier in English Grammar

    Verb phrase modifiers are defined as words, phrases, and clauses that describe a verb phrase. A verb phrase is a phrase...

    Heather JohnsonMay 9, 2014
  • The Noun Clause Modifier in English Grammar

    Noun clause modifiers are defined as words, phrases, and clauses that describe a noun clause. A noun clause is a dependent...

    Heather JohnsonMay 6, 2014
  • The Forms and Functions of Clauses in English

    Clauses are defined as grammatical structures that contain a subject and a predicate. The English language has four forms of clauses:...

    Heather JohnsonApril 25, 2014
  • Using Postpositional Phrases as Disjunct Adverbials

    Traditional grammars notionally define adpositions as words that “link to other words, phrases, and clauses” and that “express spatial or temporal relations.”...

    Heather JohnsonApril 18, 2014
  • Using Postpositional Phrases as Adjunct Adverbials

    Notional grammars define adpositions as words that “link to other words, phrases, and clauses” and that “express spatial or temporal relations.” In...

    Heather JohnsonApril 15, 2014

Pin It on Pinterest