This is the third of four High English Grammar quizzes looking at non-finite verbs. It focusses in particular on one section of the non-finites known as the infinitives.There are three types of non-finites – participles, gerunds and infinitives. While the participle and gerund undergo some modification of the verb to form their non-finites, the infinitive is the non-finite that has the base verb itself as a component.
There are two types of infinitives used in English grammar - the ‘to infinitive’ (because we add ‘to’ to the base verb to form the non-finite) and the ‘bare infinitive’ (because we just use the base verb without adding anything to it). ‘They cajoled me to come to the party’ is a sentence containing ‘to come,’ which is a ‘to infinitive.’ In the case of a bare infinitive the base verb is used after certain verbs. More specifically, bare infinitives are used after auxiliaries such as 'must,' 'could,' 'can,' 'did,' 'do,' 'might,' 'may,' 'would,' 'will,' 'should' and 'shall'. Bare infinitives are also used after certain verbs such as 'take,' 'hear,' 'help,' 'make,' 'let,' 'see,' 'watch' and 'bid'. For instance:
‘When Arpana heard the alarm clock shrill, she woke with a start.’
This is a sentence where the specific verb is ‘heard’ and the bare infinitive is ‘shrill.’ In the sentence, ‘We might complete by Friday,’ the bare infinitive ‘complete’ follows the auxiliary verb 'might'.
Infinitives, being non-finites, cannot be used as the main verb. Infinitives can be used as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. In the sentence ‘he loves to play’ the infinitive ‘to play’ is the direct object of ‘loves’ and hence functions as a noun. In the sentence ‘give him a guitar to strum’ the infinitive ‘to strum’ modifies ‘guitar’ and hence functions as an adjective. In the sentence ‘the manager returned to work’ the infinitive ‘to work’ modifies the verb returned and hence functions as an adverb.
Infinitives are a very useful part of grammar which help us to communicate more precisely and clearly. Take the quiz that follows and learn more about infinitives.