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Using P-words as Infinitive Markers

P-words are defined as prepositions and adverbs that no longer perform prepositional or adverbial functions. P-words are function words, which are defined as words that perform definite grammatical functions but that lack definite lexical meaning.

In grammar, an infinitive marker is a function words that distinguishes the base form from the infinitive form of an English verb. P-words are the only grammatical from that perform the grammatical function of infinitive marker in English, specifically the p-word to. Examples of p-words as infinitive markers include the following:

  • to be
  • to sleep
  • to dream
  • to awake
  • to smile
  • to wander hopelessly
  • to read a book
  • to not split an infinitive
  • to look the information up
  • to listen to the music


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.

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