Infinitives are forms like (to) write and (to) read. Infinitives are generally used with the marker to. Note that this to is not a preposition; after the preposition to we use –ing forms.
- I would like to meet the manager.
- Is there anything to eat?
- The main thing is to stay calm.
Negative Infinitives are normally formed by putting not before the infinitive.
- I decided to invite them. (affirmative)
- I decided not to invite them. (negative )
- You were silly not to have locked the car. (NOT You were silly to not have locked the car.)
- To find fault with others is easy. (The infinitive is ‘to find’, and it functions as the subject.)
- Alone in her cubicle, all she wanted was to survive. (The infinitive is ‘to survive,’ and it functions as the direct object.)
Don’t confuse infinitives with prepositional phrases that begin with to. Remember that a prepositional phrase always ends with a noun or a pronoun; an infinitive always ends with a verb.
An infinitive can be used as a phrase. An infinitive phrase, as with the other verbal phrases, contains modifiers that together act as a single part of speech. Following are some examples:
- The pilgrim’s hope was to reach the shrine before sunset. (The infinitive phrase ‘to reach the shrine before sunset’ describes ‘hope.’)
- To make mistakes is easy.
- I like to have cornflakes for breakfast.