What are infinitives? | Full & bare Infinitives

What are an infinitives?

What are infinitives?

Definition: The basic form of the verb without s, es, or ies which can function as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs is called the infinitive. Infinitives are different from the main verb. It follows another main verb in the sentence. Like: I want to speak English.  The main verb of the sentence is ‘want’ and the infinitive is ‘to speak’. So infinitive alone cannot give meaning to the sentence.

More examples:

  • I have a pen to write with.
  • We use a knife to cut things.
  • She wants to be an engineer.
  • The teacher wanted to teach English.

Infinitive does not show the action in the sentence like the main verb.

For example, I like to speak. In this sentence ‘like’ is the main verb of the sentence which shows action, but ‘to speak’ is an infinitive that works as a noun.  But if removing the main verb from sentences the sentence won’t give any meaning. Like I to speak. Rather than, if we say ‘I spoke today. So in this sentence spoke works as the main verb of the sentence.

There are two kinds of infinitives.

  1. Full infinitive.
  2. Bare infinitive.
  1. Full infinitive: When we add to with the base form of the verb (to + 1st verb) becomes full infinitive. Most of the verbs are used with infinitives to show purpose and intention.


  • I like to speak English.
  • I want to be a doctor.
  • She tried to reach me.
  • They struggle to become winners.

2. Bare infinitive (zero infinitives): A base form of the verb without ‘to’ is called a bare infinitive. There are limited verbs that follow bare infinitives.

Let, have, make, do, modal auxiliaries verbs, the verb of perception.


Example within sentence.Verbs That take bare infinitives.
I may find himModal auxiliary
I can make a cake.Verb
She could win the game.Modal auxiliary
They would be on time.‘Be form’ of the verb
It might be raining.‘Be form’ of the verb
They might be late tonight.‘Be form’ of the verb
I heard him open the doorThe verb of perception.

Usages of the infinitive:

There are many usages of infinitives which are illustrated very well below. Have a look!

  1. Verb + infinitive:

This is the very common structure of infinitives which show the purpose or intention.


  • They desired to win the game.
  • She wished to become rich.
  • I managed to bring peace.
  • They forced him to pray on time.
  • The teachers work hard to make the future of the students.

2) Adjective + infinitive: In this structure, a person can show reactions and feelings.


  • I am happy to find him.
  • They are angry to go abroad.
  • She is delighted to become a millionaire.

 3. Noun + infinitive: We can use noun + infinitive which shows our purpose.


  • I want John to ring the bell.
  • She found him to calm the class.
  • Did I call him to paint the wall?
  • I have too many friends to invite.

Position of infinitive.

Examples within sentence.Position of the infinitive.
I want to be a doctor.After verb
To speak English is my dream.The subject of the sentence.
I have john to ring the bell.After noun.
I am happy to become the winner.After adjectives.

Some common verbs take Infinitives. Read them and use them in your sentences.

Infinitives Example within sentence.
ChooseI choose him to write a letter to.
ClaimDid she claim to open the door?
ConsentI can consent to bring the table.
decideThey decided to wash the old car.
AgreeJohn agreed to come to the party.
AffordCan you afford to go abroad?
DemandThe kidnapers’ demanded money to release her.
AimShe has the aim to be an engineer.
DeserveThe coach deserves to be a coach.
CareThey don’t care to find a better area.
DetermineI could determine him polishing the shoes.
GuaranteeShe guaranteed him to stand behind her.
ForgetThe victim never forgets to be beaten.
FailDid she fail to pay the bill?
ExpectExpecting him to complete the project was wrong. 
AppearThe man appeared to dance on the stage.
ArrangeWe arranged for him to dance.
HopeI hope to be a doctor.
HesitateI don’t hesitate to come on the news.
HaveShe has me wash the clothes.
HappenIt happened to unite us.
BegI begged a lot to release the innocent.
AttemptShe attempted the meeting to select new CEO.
MeanI did not mean to hurt them.
SeemIt seems to be closing now.
LearnI learned to write well.
StopShe stopped me to fight.
TendWe tend to be on time.
Swear.He swore to come on time.
ThreatenThreatening him cause effects.
VowI vow to speak the truth.
WantI want to be an engineer.
WishThey wished to become polite.
NeedI needed money to buy a new car.
NeglectShe neglected me to be her own friend.
PlanI planned to drive the car today.
OfferThey offered us money to leave the game.

These are the exercises of infinitives. Fill them out carefully to make this grammar clear.

You prepared the work _______________ be managed.
Did you prepare her _____________ the game?
They ___________to ring the bell before the end.
The king __________________the queen to go out.
Did you resolve the problem___________________ rest?
We have some cake________. (eat, to eat, eaten)
Here are some papers________. (to use, use, used)
We use gun _________the felons. (kill, to kill, killed)
The felon _____________to escape. (tried, try, trying)
We should have intimacy ___________ relation. (keep, to keep, kept)
Muslims’ enemies’ ___________ to make dull the new generation of Muslims. (want, to want, wanted)
We need a mentor to __________ us. (guide, guided, to guide)
He forced him to __________ the agreement. (to sign, sign, signed)
We use force to _______________ the crimes. (finish, to finish, finished)
He comes to center _______________his speaking. (to improve, improve, improved)