Infinitives and Gerunds

Infinitives

An infinitive is the base form of a verb with the particle to as in to walk and in the sentence She likes to walk. The infinitive can function without the particle to- as in the sentence I saw her walk into the room.

Infinitives can function as nouns and verbs.

N
O
U
N
To know her is to love her. To know is the subject of the sentence
He likes to walk. To walk is the direct object of the verb likes.
The to particle can be dropped when the infinitive follows the verbs feel, hear, help, let, make, see, and watch.
V
E
R
B
My glasses help me (to) see. The to- particle can be dropped.
I felt the wind touch my face. The to- particle should be dropped.

Infinitives can function as adjectives and adverbs, as well. However, most standardized tests cover only the noun and verb forms.

Infinitives in pairs (to be, to do, to run, to eat, etc.) should be consistent or “parallel”.

Not Parallel My dad told me to start shoveling manure and hauling it to the potato patch.
Parallel My dad told me to start shoveling manure and to haul it to the potato patch.
Not Parallel My wife wants me to quit gambling every Friday and going to church on Sunday.
Parallel My wife wants me to quit gambling every Friday and to go to church on Sunday.

Gerunds

A gerund is an -ing form of a verb that functions as a noun. A gerund can function as the subject of a sentence, the complement following a linking verb, or the object of a verb or preposition.

SUBJECT Reading is fun.
COMPLEMENT Her favorite hobby is reading.
OBJECT She likes reading.

Gerunds in pairs (being, doing, running, eating, etc.) should be consistent or “parallel”.

Not Parallel My dog likes chasing squirrels and to lie on the air conditioner vent all day.
Parallel My dog likes chasing squirrels and lying on the air conditioner vent all day.
Not Parallel My lawyer recommended pleading guilty to the charge of drag racing on city streets and to avoid it in the future.
Parallel My lawyer recommended pleading guilty to the charge of drag racing on city streets and avoiding it in the future.

Infinitives and Gerunds

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