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To be writing

(to be + participle I)

The Continuous Infinitive shows that the action is in progress, incomplete at a certain time-point:

He appeared to be reading.

Note: Verbs which are not normally used in the progressive forms do not have the continuous infinitive form either. Instead, we use the Indefinite Infinitive.


He appeared tobe watchingus.

He appeared tosee what we were doing.

PERFECT INFINITIVE: to have written

(to have + participle II)

The Perfect Infinitive shows that an action precedes the action

expressed by the finite verb.


He was only too happy tospeak to her.

He was happy to have spokento her.

Note: The perfect infinitive is widely used with modal verbs to denote unrealized actions in the past (I could have bought it) or to show criticism (You should have done it).



to have been writing

(to have been + participle I)

The Perfect Continuous Infinitive shows that an action in progress began a certain time before the action expressed by the finite verb:

He was believed to have been travelling for the last three weeks.


to be written

(to be + participle II)

He was to be found nowhere.

PERFECT INFINITIVE PASSIVE: to have been written

(to have been + participle II)

Jane is fortunate to havebeen given a scholarship.

Note: The Passive Continuous Infinitive exists, but is phonetically awkward and rarely used.

The above-mentioned forms can be used in full, then we have the so-called full infinitive:

He was happy to learnthe news.

However, the infinitive can be shortened to avoid repetition. The infinitive becomes shortened when it is unnecessary to use the full infinitive, because it is understood from the context:

They advised me to refuse, but I preferred not to.

Furthermore, the infinitive is sometimes used without the particle to. In this case it is called the bare or the plain infinitive. In modern English we find the bare infinitive after the following verbs and phrases:

1) auxiliary verb do:

• I did not saythat.

2) modal verbs can, could, shall, should, may, might, will,
would, must:

• You must be tired.



Минченков А. Г.



3) the verb dare is followed by the bare infinitive:

a) in rhetorical questions beginning with how:

• How dare she talk back!

b) in negative sentences and true questions when dare is used
without an auxiliary:

Dare he refuse?- No, he dare not refuse.

Dare he do it?

Dare can be followed by both the bare and the full infinitive when it is used with an auxiliary:

Will he dare (to) refuse?

He did not dare (to) come.

Finally, dare is used with a full infinitive:

— in affirmative sentences (which are not very common, though):

He may dare to proposeto her some day.

when dare is used in the participle form:

They passed by, not daring to look up.

4) the verb need when the latter is used without an auxiliary in
interrogative and negative sentences:

Need she go now?

She need not makethe choice herself.

When need is used affirmatively or with an auxiliary it always takes the full infinitive:

Does she need togo?

I do not need todo the shopping today.

I need to speakto them.

5) Both the bare and the full infinitive can be used after the verb

• I helped her (to) carrythe heavy suitcase.

6) Know may be used with the bare infinitive only in the Present
Perfect tense when the infinitive forms part of the Objective
Infinitive Construction, although this use is optional and the
full infinitive is possible too:

I have never known him (to) say a thing like that.

7) The verb let is always used with the bare infinitive, which usually
comes after an object:

Let him swim in this river.

Note also sentences like:

Let go (of) the rope!

Live and let live.

The bare infinitive is used when let is in the passive form, but this use is rare:

A remark was let slipthat nothing had been done yet.

8) The causative verb make in the active takes the bare infinitive:

She made me get upearly.

Make in the passive takes the full infinitive:

I was made to get upearly.

Note also the set expression make do (= 'manage'):

We will have to make do with what we have got.

9) The verb have takes the bare infinitive to mean 'to persuade',
'to ask' or 'to order':

I will have them come in a moment.

• I had my mother do that for me.

Have in the negative form is used with the bare infinitive to mean 'not to allow':

I won't have them behave like that in my house.

8 9


Минченков А. Г.



10) The verbs feel, hear, see, watch, etc. (see Infinitive Constructions):

• I heard them come.

However, when see and hear are used in the passive they take the full infinitive:

He was seen to enterthe office building.


11) Why and why not take the bare infinitive in questions without a

Why not goto the cinema tonight?

Why wait?

12) The expressions would rather, would sooner:

I would rather gonow.

I'd rather notsay.

I'd sooner not botherhim.

Note that these expressions can be used with two bare infinitives:

I'd rather walkthan go by bus.

I'd sooner readthan watch this film.

Note also that the perfect infinitive can be used after them to show regret or unrealized wish in the past:

• I became a doctor, but I'd rather have becomea lawyer.

13) The expression had better:

You 'd better takea taxi.

I had better have comeearlier.

14) The bare infinitive follows the conjunction but (= 'except')
when it goes with do (+ nothing, anything, everything)

There is nothing to do but tellthe truth.

My cat does everything but speak.

15) The infinitive without to comes after the expressions cannot
(could not) but
and can't (could not) help but (mostly in formal

It cannot but havesome effect on the future developments.
Note also the combination can but try:

• I can but tryto do it (= I can only try; I can't promise I will

16) The bare infinitive is optional in phrases with all and only:

All you have to do is (to) addwater.

The only thing we can do is (to) senda fax.

17) The combination rather than is followed by the bare infinitive:

Rather than wastetime doing it yourself why don't you call a

Note:A gerund is often used after rather than instead of the bare infinitive:

I'd like to tell the truth rather than lying.


In modern English the infinitive can be used:

a) singly: • I have a nice book to read.

b) in a phrase, where the infinitive has one or more words

dependent upon it: • I have a nice book to read on

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