Infinitive and its flexibility

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chjvu

Senior Member
Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
Okay lately , i have been contemplating about the restrictions of infinitives before certain verbs and even some other adjectives . Is it true that basically infinitive can exist anywhere as long as they make sense since if it's not the direct object of the sentence , it could be an adverb or even subject complement , etc...
 
  • Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Hello, Chjvu, and welcome to the forums, :)

    Could you please give some samples of what you have in mind? (The infinitive functioning as "an adverb" or "subject complement , etc.")
     

    chjvu

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    Well i'm an EFL person but phenomenally, i'm very concerned with the way in which our language operates and that's the reason why i chose our conference .
    For the examples , "it's absolutely rhapsodic to score a goal in a premier league football game"
    The infintive "To score a goal" here could function as both adjective complement and also adverb right?
    Or even in cases like "Keep" which is not folllowed by an infintive as a subject , But you could say "the money was kept to finance the company"
    Those restrictions i have read from some grammar websites have been troubling me so much due to their confusing and obscure explanation.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Well i'm an EFL person but phenomenally, i'm very concerned with the way in which our language operates and that's the reason why i chose our conference .
    For the examples , "it's absolutely rhapsodic to score a goal in a premier league football game"
    The infintive "To score a goal" here could function as both adjective complement and also adverb right?
    Or even in cases like "Keep" which is not folllowed by an infintive as a subject , But you could say "the money was kept to finance the company"
    Those restrictions i have read from some grammar websites have been troubling me so much due to their confusing and obscure explanation.
    "It's absolutely rhapsodic to score a goal in a premier league football game."
    to me to score in a premier league footbal game is the logical subject of the sentence.
    The second sentence "The money was kept to finance the company." keep is the main verb of the sentence. to finance is adverbial of purpose of the verb keep.

    I am not sure I answered your question, though. It would be helpful if you provided links to the websites where you had found the information.
    (Please try to use correct English, this includes proper capitalisation. This is a language forum. :))






     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Your two examples have quite different uses of infinitive clauses. In the first, the clause is logical subject, but has been replaced as subject by 'it' and moved to the end. The 'it' and the infinitive clause refer to the same thing:

    It's absolutely rhapsodic to score a goal in a premier league football game.

    But in the second example, the infinitive clause is an adjunct of purpose, that is an add-on, a piece of additional information: the subordinator 'to' is equivalent to 'in order to':

    The money was kept to finance the company.
    The money was kept in order to finance the company.
    The money was kept so that they could finance the company.
     

    chjvu

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    Sure, mate
    Well my question is basically on whether or not infinitives are restricted after certain words or it could operate freely after any word depending on the context of the sentence.
    I'm unable to quote the link since my account's entitlements are still limited.

    "And this statement is what confused me despite of my 17 years of speaking English:
    The infinitive form is used after certain verbs:
    - forget, help, learn, teach, train
    - choose, expect, hope, need, offer, want, would like
    - agree, encourage, pretend, promise, recommend
    - allow, can/can't afford, decide, manage, mean, refuse"
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Here is a little rule: Because of the to, infinitives do not work well after most prepositions.

    I think the website in question must be one of those that attempts to explain when to use an infinitive, when to use a gerund, and when we have a choice between the two. The "in order to" meaning is fairly straightforward, independent of which verb is used, but the verbs in the list use the infinitive in ways that depend what the verb might mean (e.g. as direct object of a transitive verb). ESL students may find it easier to memorize these lists of verbs than to work out the semantics involved. I really don't know myself what makes the most sense.

    It is easy to imagine "do something" after each of the following:

    - forget to, help someone (to), learn to, teach someone to, train someone to.
    - choose to, expect to, hope to, need
    ((for) someone) to, offer to, want (someone) to, would like ((for) someone) to.
    - agree to, encourage someone to, pretend to, promise to, recommend someone to.
    - allow
    someone to, can/can't afford (for someone) to, decide to, manage to, mean (for someone) to, refuse to.

    Note how for and to in these constructions are sometimes required, sometimes optional, and sometimes disallowed. Note also that some of these "(to) do something"s can be replaced by "doing something"s (gerunds), some with a change of meaning, and some cannot. I wish I knew how to explain the wherefores of this.
     

    chjvu

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    That's definitely what i think as well . How about these cases though:
    "i offer him to play football in Manchester United , i offer him playing football in Man Utd"
    or
    "i pretend to sleep , i pretend sleeping"
    they both make sense .It's just the matter of one more consistent than the others
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    That's definitely what I think as well . How about these cases though:
    "I offer him to play football in Manchester United , I offer him playing football in Man Utd."
    or
    "I pretend to sleep , I pretend sleeping."
    they both make sense .It's just the matter of one more consistent than the others.
    (cjvu: Standard English is required in this forum, including capitalization and punctuation. "I" is always capitalized in English.)

    Neither of your "offer" sentences sounds natural to me. "I pretend sleeping" is not idiomatic to me, either. It's possible to glean what is meant by them, but that doesn't mean that they sound like natural English.

    I offer him the chance to play football..." or "I offer him the chance of playing football..." would both work for me.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    There are actually many sentences that can be constructed that are not grammatically incorrect but are not idiomatic. The details of grammar are not my strong suit. I can't see anything particularly wrong with the first example. The second example looks odd no matter what I substitute into the same format:

    I pretend running.
    I pretend eating.
    I pretend skiing.
    I pretend listening.

    It seems to me that "I pretend" must be followed by an infinitive if it is followed by a verb.
     

    chjvu

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    True ,
    Most of us, native speakers tend to speak without really understanding the language and i don't want to make my questions repetitive but you could argue that sleeping here functions as a noun, can't you?
    And once again, could you please answer my question directly? Infinitives could be situated wherever as long as they make sense, right?
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    True ,
    Most of us, native speakers tend to speak without really understanding the language and i don't want to make my questions repetitive but you could argue that sleeping here functions as a noun, can't you?
    I see it a bit differently.
    The ing form may in fact be either a present participle or a gerund. The former expresses a present action (plus it can act as a verbal adjective) whereas the latter is a verbal noun. In your sentence: I pretend to sleep., to sleep expresses an action, so sleeping would have to do the same job, but it doesn't because the verb pretend, when used transitively, usually requires the infinitive with to, or a subordinate clause. There are of course cases where you can use a noun with it too, but they seem less frequent and these are usually elliptical constructions, i.e. where the verb has been omitted.

    And once again, could you please answer my question directly? Infinitives could be situated wherever as long as they make sense, right?
    Well, most of the time everything that you use and that makes sense can be used and is usually correct (I realise this is a generalisation and that you can find many counter-examples, but it was meant to be so), can't it?








     

    chjvu

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    So, in a case when an object is involved, isn't it always grammatically correct to use both infinitive and gerunds depending on how you interpret it?
    How about this case:
    "I convince the people going to church to eat the bread."
    and
    "I convince the people to go to church to eat the bread."
    Here you can see that the gerund "going to church" plays the role of being the complement describing the object while the infinitive "to go to church" is the object of the verb "convince". What i'm trying to prove is that there's no prohibition of the use of gerunds and infinitives in an entire sentence rather than in relation to a certain verb.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Surely the object of convince is people, in both sentences.
    The sentences have quite different meanings, of course.

    In going to church, going is a participle, not a gerund.
     

    chjvu

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    So yes, in conclusion, there isn't any restrictions in the choice between gerunds and infinitives in relation to verb and the only restriction to gerunds and infinitives is the meaning the sentence is conveying. Is that statement correct?
     

    chjvu

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    I'm sorry for my enigmatic expression, but in general what is it true that infinitive could appear anywhere on the sentence? The only difference is its function.For example, if its not an object of verb then it could be complement of a noun or functioning as an adverb standing for "in order to".
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I think you would find THIS LINK useful.
    It is one of several listed in the sticky thread at the top of this forum.
    Both gerunds and infinitive phrases can function as nouns, in a variety of ways. Noun uses are covered in a separate document, a section that should be helpful to students who want to understand why some verbs take gerunds, others take infinitives, some take either.
    Because gerunds and gerund phrases are nouns, they can be used in any way that a noun can be used:​

    Thanks, Thomas1 - I have added edufind.com to our resources list :)
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    To speak bluntly no it's not true.
    No to speak bluntly it's not true.
    No it's to speak bluntly not true.
    No it's not to speak bluntly true.
    No it's not true to speak bluntly.

    Infinitive clauses, like all other structures, have specific positions they can go in. They have specific uses which may be licensed by specific other words, such as those in the list including 'prevent', 'promise', 'help' and so on. For these verbs, the dictionary entry needs to say that it can take an infinitive clause and what the meaning of this structure is: for example, 'help' can take an object and an infinitive clause and the meaning of the infinitive is that the object successfully performs it. 'Help' takes various other constructions but they all have to be listed:

    Mary helped John. [object]
    Mary helped John to pack the suitcases. [object + infinitive]
    Mary helped to pack the suitcases. [infinitive]
    Mary helped. [no complement]

    In addition to these specific constructions, 'help' can occur in sentences with the word 'elephant' and 'balloon' and 'while' and thousands of others, but the grammar doesn't need to specify these:

    Mary helped John to draw an elephant.
    Mary helped John while the rest of us were in the balloon.
    Mary helped while we packed.
    Mary helped because she liked John.

    It is irrelevant that 'helped' happens to occur next to 'because'. There is a mention of 'help to' in a grammar, but not of 'help because'. All that's relevant here is that a phrase headed by 'because' can occur as an adjunct of reason:

    Mary tattooed warthogs over John's bum [because she was raving mad].

    Infinitive clauses can also be used as adjuncts of reason:

    Mary tattooed warthogs over John's bum [to wreak revenge for his infidelity].

    In this capacity, they can occur by chance in a position where the grammatically specified infinitive can also occur. There might even be ambiguity:

    Mary helped John to pack for his trip. [complement]
    Mary helped John to show John was bad at packing. [adjunct of reason]
    Mary helped John to save time. [ambiguous]
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Mary helped John to show John was bad at packing. [adjunct of reason]
    Just a small question, Entangledbank: is "reason" in the terminology you use an umbrella term encompassing purpose and cause?
     

    chjvu

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    Could you please analyse the roles of gerunds and infinitives these sentences as well? "we are triumphant to bring the cup home" and "we are triumphant bringing the cup home". I suspect ing here plays the role of a participial phrase.
     
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