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Infinitives are verb phrases composed of to + the main form of the verb. For e.g.,
  • to give
  • to see
  • to be
  • to think
  • to grow
  • to encourage
  • to worry

Rules regarding Infinitives


  1. Infinitives are used as the subject of sentences:

“To be or not to be” is the question asked by Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
To ski well is the aim of many winter sport enthusiasts.


  1. Infinitive verbs follow “how, when, why, and where” (question words not used in questions):

I know how to sew.

  1. Infinitive forms are used after other verbs: want/need/like/love/try:
  • I want to be alone.
  • I like to travel during the summer.
  • She needs to call her parents.
  • They tried to give the money back.
  • Birds must love to fly.


  1. Infinitive forms are not used after the verbs: feel, see, hear, smell:

For example, consider a bus and your perception of it: I saw the bus move. I heard the bus move. I felt the bus move. I smelled the bus move. (not “to move”)


  1. Do not use an infinitive after “enjoy.”

I enjoy watching (not “to watch”) sports on TV.


  1. Do not use the infinitive after modal auxiliaries.
  • I must try harder in math class. (not I must to try)
  • I can sell you my car at a discount. (not I can to sell)
  • I will come by for you at nine o’clock.
  • He could make a mistake easily.
  • They should not touch the blood barehanded.
Infinitive Phrases

These are simply instances in which an infinitive is in a phrase with other words that modify the action or state being expressed.
Like this:
The whole point of taking a road trip, as you know, is to drive leisurely.
The addition of the adverb “leisurely” gives us the infinitive phrase “to drive leisurely.”
And that’s all we mean by infinitive and infinitive phrase.

Now with that in mind, we can go ahead and take a look at split infinitives.
An infinitive (like “to drive”) becomes split when we place one or more words in between the word “to” and whatever verb comes immediately after it. Usually we do this because we’re trying to modify the verb. It might look like this:
The whole point of taking a road trip, as you know, is to leisurely drive.

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