Syntactic Functions of Infinitives in English

Sara Quintero Ramírez

Abstract


The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the most relevant syntactic functions of infinitives within the sentence in English, based on the British 2006 Corpus (BE06) designed by Paul Baker and displayed by the server of Andrew Hardie, Corpus Query Processor (CQPweb). The corpus reveals that infinitives are a very frequent non-finite form employed in English. The most relevant syntactic functions that infinitives took in the corpus were as verbal periphrasis, as verb complements, as noun complements, as adjectival complements, as nominal predicates and as verb subjects. In English there are specific contexts in which the infinitive is not preceded by the particle to, such as after an extensive number of auxiliary, perception and permission verbs. Furthermore, there are other specific contexts in which the infinitive is preceded by the particle to, such as after a large number of direct objects in transitive verbs and functioning as a verb subject and as a noun or adjective complement. The major claim of this study is that infinitives in English do not constitute a uniform group; in fact, they display a variety of syntactic functions within the sentence directly reflecting their nominal and verbal properties.

 


Keywords


Bare infinitive, full infinitive, infinitive phrase, syntactic function, BE06, CQPweb

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.4n.1p.182

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