Infinitive

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oona003

New Member
France, French
Hello everybody :)
In French or in Spanish, we have a different word for the infinitive and the conjugation of verbs. Is it the same for all languages ?
I have the impression that in Greek, the infinitive is the same form as the 1st person in simple present. Am I wrong ? Please correct me.
Good bye
Oona
 
  • David

    Banned
    It varies very widely. In Chinese, for example, a verb has only one form: chu, to go or to have gone, or went.

    Wo chu. I go or I went. Ni chu. You go or you went. Ta chu, he or she goes or went. Tamen chu, they go. Women chu, we go or we went. Chu-le. (I, you, he, she, it, or they have already gone...). Bu chu. I, you, he, she, it, we, they did not go, or are not going or will not go...
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Let me begin with German:

    haben (to have)
    ...
    wir haben (we have)
    sie haben (they have)
    Sie haben (you have)


    ... and I'll go on with English:

    to have
    I have
    you have
    we have
    they have

    In Arabic, an infinitive is actually considered as "3rd singular":

    فعل (fa'ala) stands for "to do" and "he does". The actual infinitive would be فعل (f'il). ;)
     

    remosfan

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    oona003 said:
    I have the impression that in Greek, the infinitive is the same form as the 1st person in simple present. Am I wrong ?
    Yes and no. (Modern) Greek doesn't have an infinitive so it has to use a different construction, and in this, the equivalent of the infinitive is inflected for person and number. E.g.

    "I want to leave" = "Θέλω να φύγω" (φύγω is the 1st person form)
    "He wants to leave" = "Θέλει να φύγει" (φύγει is the 3rd person form)

    Basically Greek says "I want that I leave".

    Hmm.. but Greek and French agree in not using the infinitive when you want to say "I want him to leave" = "Θέλω να φύγει" = "Je veux qu'il parte", while English still uses the infinitive.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    In Arabic, an infinitive is actually considered as "3rd singular": :cross:

    فعل (fa'ala) stands for "to do" :cross: and "he does" :cross:. (It only means "he did"!) The actual infinitive would be فعل (f'il). :cross: (This is simply a noun derived from the verb; it means "deed.") ;)
    Arabic does not have an unconjugated infinitive. That is, even when you want to say "I want to eat," the "to eat" is conjugated as well as "want," so that a different word is used for "to eat" when you want to say "You want to eat." In this case the "infinitive" is simply the present tense verb with a particle before it (namely, ان ) and a vowel ending (a) that differs from the present tense ending (u).

    Because of this dilemma, the third person singular masculine past tense form is used instead of an infinitive to translate verbs from other languages, because it is the only form that consists only of the roots of the verb - without any prefixes, suffixes, or infixes - and therefore serves as the "pure" form of the verb. However, it is by no means an actual infinitive. An infinitive does not indicate tense, person, or number - all of which the form فعل does indicate.

    As for your translations: "to do" would differ depending on the sentence (as explained earlier) and "he does" would be يفعل.

    I hope it's clear now.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    remosfan said:
    Yes and no. (Modern) Greek doesn't have an infinitive so it has to use a different construction, and in this, the equivalent of the infinitive is inflected for person and number. E.g.

    "I want to leave" = "Θέλω να φύγω" (φύγω is the 1st person form)
    "He wants to leave" = "Θέλει να φύγει" (φύγει is the 3rd person form)

    Basically Greek says "I want that I leave".

    Hmm.. but Greek and French agree in not using the infinitive when you want to say "I want him to leave" = "Θέλω να φύγει" = "Je veux qu'il parte", while English still uses the infinitive.
    Great explanation! That's exactly the way it works in Arabic! I just got done explaining it but I hadn't ever thought of it that way!

    ان means "that" and the following verb, as beautifully explained, is inflected for person and number. Basically, "to do" will always be translated as "that (I, you, etc.) do(es)" in Arabic.

    Amazing, remosfan! :thumbsup:
     

    remosfan

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    elroy said:
    Great explanation! That's exactly the way it works in Arabic! I just got done explaining it but I hadn't ever thought of it that way!
    Thanks, but I can't take too much credit -- it's a standard explanation in Greek reference books :D

    To add to those languages that follow the Greek and Arabic construction: Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian (all from the Balkans).
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    remosfan said:
    Thanks, but I can't take too much credit -- it's a standard explanation in Greek reference books :D

    To add to those languages that follow the Greek and Arabic construction: Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian (all from the Balkans).
    Nonetheless, I thank you for enlightening me. As a native speaker of Arabic who was never educated in Arabic, I need all the help I can get to explain structures I spontaneously and naturally know how to use. :)
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    oona003 said:
    Hello everybody :)
    In French or in Spanish, we have a different word for the infinitive and the conjugation of verbs. Is it the same for all languages ?
    I have the impression that in Greek, the infinitive is the same form as the 1st person in simple present. Am I wrong ? Please correct me.
    Good bye
    Oona
    We should be careful not to confuse the infinitive with the "name of the verb". If you look in a Latin dictionary, you will see that it shows the first person singular of the present indicative, active voice, for most verbs. However, Latin had an infinitive! It's just that ancient authors preferred to designate a verb by the 1st. person ("I talk" instead of "to talk").
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    In Finnish we have an infinitive but in some (few) cases it's similar to the 3rd singular of present. That can be confusing if the word is separated from the context.
     

    cyrille2188

    Member
    The Philippines - Fluent in Tagalog/English; Intermediate in French
    In Tagalog, there are infinitives but they aren't called that way - they are referred to as the 'root word'. Unlike in most languages, the root word (=infinitive) is never used in spoken language but only serves as a guide in adding the prefixes, suffixes and the likes.

    I never knew about them until I actually started studying the language in first grade.

    EDIT: I just realized that they can be used but they are never used by native speakers. Just like one says 1-2-3 Go! The root word may substitute, in English's case, for go.

    Isa, dalawa, tatlo Talon!
    One, two, three jump!

    But then again, this idea only exist gramatically since imperatives are seen more often than these exclamations.
     

    ronanpoirier

    Senior Member
    Brazil - Portuguese
    In portuguese there is the regular and the personal infinitive

    the regular one is used in a general way like "to eat (= comer)" and "to live (= viver)"

    the personal one indicates it's infinitive but it gives you an agent to that infinite action :-S that is hard to explain

    See the sentences below:

    Eu prefiro ir de carro. (= I rather go by car)
    Here the regular infinitive is used because it's a verbal locution

    Eu fiz o meu melhor para ganharmos o jogo. (= I did my best to [we] win the game.)
    The -mos after ganhar indicates that nós (= we) won the game, not just
    eu (= I, me)
    The same sentence can be written this way:
    Eu fiz o meu melhor para que nós ganhássemos o jogo. (= I did my best so we could win the game.)
    Then the Subjunctive Mode is used... This sentence is better understood in french:
    J'ai fait mon meilleur pour que nous gagnassions le jeux.


    I know I wasn't clear but that's the basic!

    Ah, and if the person of the subject is the same of the second action (the one after "para" or any other preposition) then we won't use the personal infinitive, but the regular one instead.

    The conjugation of the personal infinitive is the same of the Future of the Sunjunctive.

    I heard portuguese is the only indo-european language which has the personal infinitive... any more informations are welcome :)
     

    ronanpoirier

    Senior Member
    Brazil - Portuguese
    Oh ya! in hungarian there's the infinitive (which ends by -ni) but mostly times the 3rd person singular is used to indicate it because the 3rd person singular has a Ø suffix and, sometimes, there are some verbs which end by -ik in the 3rd person singular and this -ik only appears in the 3rd person singular and then the 1st person singular conjugation is changed too so there's no way to know if the verb you read the infinitive has the 3rd person singular's -ik or not
    And there are some irregular verbs which conjugations differs from the infinitive form, so the 3rd person singular can help you to know what way to follow.

    I said "3rd person singular" 5 times! LoOoL... with this one... 6!!!
     

    Jhorer Brishti

    Senior Member
    United States/Bangladesh English/Bengali
    In bengali there is an infinitive ending in "aa" such as in the word "raakhaa" meaning to place/put. In Shaadhubhaasha bengali the infinitive would be "raakhan". When there are two verbs in a sentence and one of them is not being used in combination with the other(which results in a new meaning vastly different from what the verbs alone would create.. kind of like English's "put up, leave behind, take up,etc.) the first verb is suffixed with "te" as in the sentence "Aami sheTaa oikhaane raakhte chaai."
    Verbal conjugations have very few exceptions and are only conjugated for person meaning that the conjugations for "I and we" are the same, "You(there are three forms with varying levels of respect/honor/formality and all having different conjugations) and "You plural" are the same and He/she/it and "They" are the same. Plurality and gender are unaccounted for in verbal conjugation(Gender is all but lost in Bengali unlike most other Indic languages)..
     

    janecito

    Senior Member
    Slovene, Slovenia
    remosfan said:
    To add to those languages that follow the Greek and Arabic construction: Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian (all from the Balkans).
    As far as I know, Romanian has infinitives:

    a iubi (to love) > eu iubesc, tu iubeşti, el iubeşte, etc.

    The Latin infinitive forms (ending in -re) usually become nouns in Romanian: iubire (love).

    But, as you said, the infinitive is not that widely used and often an English infinitive has to be translated with a personal form of the verb (usually in a subordinate clause).

    I want to tell you... > Vreau să-ţi spun...
     

    Honour

    Senior Member
    Türkçe, Türkiye
    in turkish there are different conjugations for each person, time and mood.
    All modals that are available in english (and even more than it) are integrated into conjugations. Like spanish and italian, we barely use pronouns in colloquial language.
     

    Honour

    Senior Member
    Türkçe, Türkiye
    diegodbs said:
    Is there any exception in Turkish to the mek/mak endings for infinitives?
    No, there isn't any :). All verbs without an exception end in either -mek or -mak. However, there is an exception in the conjugation of the verb olmak (to be) as you know.;)
     

    Tisia

    Senior Member
    Iran, Persian, Kurdish, English, Finnish
    In Persian as well , infinitives are conjugated. The difference I have noticed with other languages is that even when a verb follows another verb as in the sentence "I want to go", in Persian you change the second verb (the infinitive) as well: eg. raftan=to go. The English: "I want to go" would be translated as "Man mikham beravam."

    Tisia
     

    Brazilian dude

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    The conjugation of the personal infinitive is the same of the Future of the Sunjunctive.
    Not really. The personal infinitive is the impersonal infinitive + -, -es, -, -mos, -des, -em; future subjunctive is derived from 3rd person plural of perfect preterite forms, so you get:
    future subjunctive (ser): eu for, tu fores, ele for, nós formos, vós fordes, eles forem
    personal infinitive (ser): eu ser, tu seres, ele ser, nós sermos, vós serdes, eles serem

    Brazilian dude
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    To add to those languages that follow the Greek and Arabic construction: Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian (all from the Balkans).
    Do other Slavic languages (except Bulgarian) have infinitive?

    I would also be interested in other languages not mentioned in this thread so far.
    By the way, Ancient Greek had, as opposed to Modern Greek (#4).

    French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Hebrew, and Norwegian also have infinitives.
    Also, Swedish and probably Danish.
     
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    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    Let me begin with German:

    ... and I'll go on with English:
    Same in Dutch.
    In the West-Germanic languages, the infinitive is identical to the 1st and 3rd person plural (the we-form and the they-form), except for the English verb "to be": we are, they are.

    This is also true for most Icelandic verbs: the infinitive and the they-form are the same. (but not the we-form)
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Welsh, like the other Celtic languages, has no infinitive. When we are called upon to translate a "to + verb" structure in English, we use the structure of the verbal noun (which is almost invariably masc. sing.)

    canu - 'singing' (and where appropriate, 'to sing')

    Canu da
    Singing good
    'Good singing'

    Canu yn dda
    To sing PREDICATE SOFT MUTATION good
    'To sing well

    Dw i'n canu (Periphrastic/non-conjugated form of the verb)
    Am I PREDICATE singing
    'I am singing'/'I sing'

    (PS. No participles in the Celtic languages either.)
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Do other Slavic languages (except Bulgarian) have infinitive?
    Bulgarian and Macedonian don't have the "normal" infinitive; in other Slavic languages it's all pretty standard (the infinitives going back to the proto-Slavic -*ti infinitive inflection).
     
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    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian and Macedonian don't have the "normal" infinitive;
    Yes, like the languages mentioned in the following quote:
    To add to those languages that follow the Greek and Arabic construction: Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian (all from the Balkans).

    in other Slavic languages it's all pretty standard (the infinitives going back to the proto-Slavic -*ti infinitive inflection).
    ...which in Modern Russian is -ть. Thanks.
     
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    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    In Hungarian, the infinitive is marked by the ending -ni. I don't think there are any exceptions.

    élni = to live
    látni = to see
    főzni = to cook
    , etc.

    the infinitives going back to the proto-Slavic -*ti infinitive inflection
    Which is also shared by the Baltic languages: Lithuanian -ti, Latvian -t.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    ..which in Modern Russian is -ть.
    Basically yes, unstressed -ти was shortened and reduced to -ть in most Old Russian dialects (and then the fall of the yers turned it into the modern Russian /-tʲ/). However, Standard Russian, much like North Russian dialects, also preserves the stressed -ти in many verbs (идти, ползти, нести etc.), and there's also -чь (/-ʨ/) resulting from the Proto-Slavic fusion of /-kti/ and /-gti/ (мочь, толочь). Plus, in the East Slavic dialects the reflective clitic *sẽ has turned into a postfix, which in Russian and Belarusian has fused with the infinitive and 3p. inflections, so the infinitives of the reflexive verbs with the typical unstressed inflection actually end in /-ʦa/ in Russian (although the orthography doesn't reflect the fusion: -ться /*-sʲa/).
     
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