Grammar 18


Infinitive Phrases

An infinitive is a simple verb combined with "to".

You already know that "to" is a preposition. However, it's not always a preposition. Sometimes, the word "to" can signal an "additional verb" that the author is going to squeeze into the sentence.

In this sentence, "want" is the main verb. The object of "want" is "to eat". "To eat" is an infinitive phrase.

Infinitive phrases (almost) always start with the word "to". In fact, "to" is called the "sign of the infinitive".

The verb that follows "to" is always in the simple present tense. This form of the verb is called the "infinitive form" or the "dictionary form" of the verb. (In dictionaries, verbs are listed in their infinitive form).

In addition, an infinitive phrase may include objects and modifiers:

Prepositional vs. Infinitive Phrases

When you see the word "to" in a sentence, you know that you have found a phrase. But what kind of phrase is it?

Fortunately, telling the two apart is easy:

I went to the store.

"Store" is a noun; therefore, "to the store" is a prepositional phrase.

I like to dance.

"Dance" is a verb; therefore; "to dance" is an infinitive phrase.


Instructions for the Quiz

Identify the underlined phrase.