An Infinitive is the Base Form of a Verb Plus: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what the infinitive form is? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the infinitive form, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What is the infinitive form?

According to Walden, there are many different tenses of verbs in English. Some of these are a simple form of the verb, while some are more complex. Some of these can be used in the first person, second person, and third person.

  •   Present participle tense
  •   Future perfect tense
  •   Simple present tense
  •   Bare infinitive tense
  •   Indicative tense
  •   Present perfect tense
  •   Past progressive/continuous tense
  •   Past perfect tense
  •   Conditional tense
  •   Conditional perfect tense
  •   Present progressive tense
  •   Future progressive tense
  •   Simple conditional tense
  •   Gerund tense or gerund phrase 
  •   Present perfect progressive/continuous tense
  •   Future perfect progressive tense
  •   Perfect passive tense
  •   Past perfect progressive tense
  •   Imperative tense
  •   Conditional progressive tense
  •   Subjunctive tense/subjunctive mood
  •   To-infinitive tense
  •   Simple future tense
  •   Simple past tense
  •   Conditional perfect progressive tense
  •   Past participle tense

Today, we are exploring the infinitive form and will answer the common question, “the infinitive is the base form of a verb plus what?” In short, an infinitive is formed by adding the word “to” to the beginning of the base form of a verb or basic form of a verb. 

The infinitive of a verb or verb phrase is very versatile and can be used for many different things in the English language. While infinitives include verbs, infinitives are not verbs. This is a very important concept. There are many uses of the infinitive version of the verb for different parts of speech. This variety of uses may feel overwhelming at first, but don’t worry: you’ll be impressing your English teachers in academic writing and informal writing in no time with your passion for grammar.

Infinitive verbs are verbals. An infinitive can be used as an adjective, nouns or adverbs. A bare infinitive is an infinitive verb without the preceding “to” and is used after modal auxiliary verbs or helping verbs such as should, can, shall, will, would, may, could, might, and more in a sentence. There is also the present infinitive and passive infinitive. Infinitives function as objects to the modal verbs in sentences with verbs of perception. A split infinitive is an infinitive with an adverb or adjective between “to” and the verb and is bad grammar. 

You may see infinitives in other Germanic languages that are foreign languages, as well as in Native American languages used just like English infinitives or other English verbs. There are many types of verbs, including regular verbs, a finite verb, a nonfinite verb, a main verb, irregular verbs, a verb chain, and other verb tenses.

What are examples of infinitive forms?

Infinitive forms can be used in many different contexts in the English language. Trying to use a word or grammatical technique in a sentence is one of the best ways to memorize what it is, but you can also try making flashcards or quizzes that test your knowledge. Try using this term of the day in a sentence today! Below are a couple of examples of infinitive forms from Your Dictionary that can help get you started incorporating this tool into your everyday use.  Take a look at these infinitive form examples in the following sentences and see how many you can identify the infinitive form in!

  •  I would like to eat the pizza and the cake at the birthday party.
  •  I would like to thank you for coming out tonight.
  •  Math is my least favorite subject to study.
  •  Oliver made me share my lunch with him.
  •  He certainly gave me something to think about.
  •  The Superbowl is the game to watch.
  •  In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet decided to talk to a skull.
  •  This is the most important thing to know.
  •  Do you have any laundry to wash?
  •  Mom loves to give gifts.
  •  Let’s buy snow gear to go skiing.
  •  We decided to go out.
  •  I bought a patch to stop smoking.
  •  Kelly went to the store to buy small apples.
  •  That watch is a valuable heirloom to pass down.
  •  The best method to use is the hands-on method.
  •  Do you swear to tell the truth?
  •  Cameron travels to see the world.
  •  My dad will be so happy to meet you!
  •  You’d better tell me the truth.
  •  The birds stole the twigs to build a nest.
  •  To dance is my little girl’s dream.
  •  Fred does like you.
  •  Billie is finally ready to go.
  •  He reminded her to go downtown.
  •  You are so easy to talk to.
  •  Hunter would rather go to school.
  •  You’ll always have a sister to confide in.
  •  Peter is a difficult guy to understand.
  •  I want to swim in the pool.
  •  You will need a time machine to see the dinosaurs.
  •  I went to college to become an engineer.
  •  I would like to understand the lesson so that I pass my exams.
  •  I’d prefer to see an action movie.
  •  He does not like to drink soda from a can.
  •  Read the manual to understand more about repairing the stereo.
  •  I saw her swim ten laps.
  •  My favorite meal to make is macaroni and cheese.
  •  I climbed the mountain to see the view.
  •  We decided to volunteer once our parents gave us permission.
  •  Dolphins are the best animal to watch through binoculars with clarity.
  •  The actor knew he had to have ambition to succeed.
  •  The interrupter was starting to annoy me.
  •  I was going to bake cookies for the concert.
  •  He dared to refuse dinner.
  •  Can you help me carry this upstairs?
  •  I promise to hate her forever.
  •  She was trying to understand grammar, but got lost in all of the different terms: prepositional phrase, pronoun, direct objects, a modifier; it was all too much!
  •  I forgot to take my vitamins today.

Overall, the function of an infinitive form or infinitive form of a verb is to form an adjective clause, adverbial phrase, adjectival phrase, or noun phrase. Infinitive phrases function as an adjective, adverb, or noun. In other languages, these are a single word.


  1. Verb Forms: “-ing,” Infinitives, and Past Participles – Grammar – Academic Guides at Walden University | Walden 
  2. infinitive: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. Examples of Infinitive Verbs | Your Dictionary