Talk:Infinitive

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Rewrite of intro?[edit]

Currently, the lead text is rather vague, and yet manages to contradict itself. I think the problem is that the term infinitive is used differently in discussing different languages. For example, most languages AFAIK have only impersonal infinitives, but Portuguese (apparently? [Indeed! Velho]) has personal infinitives; in most languages AFAIK, infinitives are verbs' "dictionary forms," but some languages have no infinitives, and Hebrew has them but uses the third-person masculine singular past indicative for dictionaries; in most languages AFAIK, an infinitive cannot be cannot be a "main verb," but French allows the infinitive to double as a sort of abstract imperative in signs/postings; and so on.

I don't think there's a universal definition of the term that applies to its (commonly accepted) uses in all languages; therefore, I think the solution is to give a first sentence that explains that the term describes similar but distinct forms in different languages and introduces a list of features of infinitives that are common among many language (together with notes on deviations from these commonalities).

It's probably also worth noting - though perhaps not in the lead text - when non-infinitive verb forms share these features; for example, English has a "gerund" form that acts the same as many other languages' infinitives, and that is indeed interchangeable (or almost interchangeable) with English's infinitive in some contexts (e.g., "I saw him run" vs. "I saw him running").

Does anyone have any thoughts on the matter? Ruakh 07:40, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with the criticism. What characterizes the personal infinitive is that it is inflected, meaning that it has different forms according to person and number. So I cannot agree with the definition currently in the article:
"In grammar, the infinitive is the form of a verb that has no inflection to indicate person, number, mood or tense."
The infinitive can be inflected to indicate person and number, in some languages. What it does not show is tense -- the time at which an action occurs --, or mood. FilipeS 23:08, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Non-sense: infinitives may inflect for tense: "It's good to write a book!" / "It's good to have written a book!" Or, e.g. in Portuguese, "É bom escrever um livro!" / "É bom ter escrito um livro!". Velho 00:07, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
The infinitive forms in those examples, to write, to have, escrever, and ter, are not inflected. You are confusing compound verb phrases with conjugations. FilipeS 14:24, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
1. Oh dear! And I thought that there were compound verb forms! Ts, ts, ts... But now, how many tenses are there in English, for instance?
2. Notice also that the auxiliary may be inflected for person in languages that allow it: "Foi bom teres escrito esse livro!" (It was good that you wrote that book).
3. Are you sure you wanted to say "verb phrases"? Verb phrases include the complements and the adjuncts of the verb.
See you around! Velho 18:06, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
As you know, modern linguists tend not to count compound verbs as tenses (you've probably heard that "English has no future tense" at some time in your life, for example), since they are not constructed by inflecting the main verb. Otherwise, there would be no difference between synthetic languages and analytic languages, as far as verbs are concerned. FilipeS 18:46, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
The difference between s. languages and is a. languages is quantitative. I would almost agree with you if you said "some" instead of "modern". Check Wikipedia pages on languages' grammars: compound verb forms are included in... verb forms. So, an infinitive may be compound. It is still an infinitive, whether it is an inflected form or not. (comment continues below)
It is still an infinitive, whether it is an inflected form or not.
Did I ever claim that inflected infinitives were not infinitves? Kindly read more carefully, the next time. FilipeS 14:47, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
You've probably heard that at some time in your life that there are a few differences between compound tenses and peryphrastic structures. For instance, auxiliary verbs in compound tenses do not select any arguments. Verb complements and adjuncts cannot be inside the compound (between auxiliary and compound).
Tell me: what is an auxiliary verb?
By the way, have you ever noticed that Latin has a synthetic perfect infinitive? E.g., amāvisse, fecisse, etc.
See you! Velho 23:17, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
You've probably heard that at some time in your life that there are a few differences between compound tenses and peryphrastic structures.
There are no semantic differences, but there are morphological differences.
By the way, have you ever noticed that Latin has a synthetic perfect infinitive? E.g., amāvisse, fecisse, etc.
So what? I never said the infinitive couldn't be inflected for aspect.
Here's the deal: the definition currently in the article is wrong. It's wrong if we only count inflected verb forms, as I was doing, and it's wrong if we take your approach, too. How do you propose to correct it? FilipeS 14:52, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
I suppose the synthetic Latin forms are in fact preterite infinitives. They're used either for perfect or imperfect clauses. But the point is different: regardless the languages that you and I know, there is nothing forbiding that, in some languages, an infinitive be inflected for tense.
The difference between compound and peryphrastic structures may be semantical. If the semi-auxiliary in a peryphrastic structure selects arguments, then we have a semantical difference.
About the deal: you may have noticed that we absolutely agree that the definition is wrong. I'm not sure about the best way to fix it, or I would have done it already:
  1. I guess that there is no way to define "infinitive" for every language without including, e.g., the English gerund or the Latin supine.
  2. However, there should be made a difference between infinitives and (other) verbal nouns, but I don't think that this difference may be kept in every language.
  3. So, we must distinguish a universal definition and a definition that works for languages that have two infinitives according to the previous definition, but only call "infinitive" one of them.
  4. The universal definition must distinguish infinitives from other non-finite verbs (notice that Wikipedia's definition of non-finite verb is wrong too).
  5. I guess that infinitives, in the "universal" way of seeing them, should be defined more or less this way: they function as verbs within the infinitive clause (or predicate), but they make this clause (or predicate) function as a noun.
  6. The finite uses of infinitives, as in some French and Portuguese imperative sentences, should be seen as "exceptional", meaning that those infinitives are called "infinitives" only for morphological (or etymological...) reasons, but they aren't "real" infinitives.
  7. If you agree with this, perhaps we could do something about the definition...
Please stop indenting the text, or this will soon be unreadable! :-)
Velho 15:45, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Re: "Please stop indenting the text, or this will soon be unreadable!": Sorry, that was me; I didn't think you'd mind. I think the unindented version is unreadable — it's easier for the two of you, because each of you knows what he added and what the other guy added, but for the rest of us, there's just a huge blob of text. If you could find some way to make it clearer what is responding to what, whose comments end where, etc., I'd appreciate it. Ruakh 14:10, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Still about tense: in some languages, finite verbs do not inflect for tense, even if they inflect for aspect or, sometimes, person. That's the case with Portuguese Creoles. Velho 16:29, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Then what makes them "finite"?...

BTW, these latest indentations were not my doing. FilipeS 16:41, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

They are used in finite sentences, no? And they "inflect" for aspect (with the help of a particle/prefix). They are also the head of simple declarative, imperative, etc., sentences. Velho 17:12, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, but any inflection of a verb can be used in a finite sentence. At least, from my limited experience with languages.

As for being inflected for aspect, I think it can be argued that the same happens with the non-finite forms of Portuguese and English, for example. FilipeS 18:18, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Hey, shouldn't you say something about my "proposals" for a definition of infinitive? Velho 18:55, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

I hadn't realised there were any. Where are they? FilipeS 19:15, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Wait, I get it now:

"In grammar, the infinitive is the form of a verb that has no inflection to indicate person, number, mood or tense. It is called the "infinitive" because the verb is usually not made "finite", or limited by inflection. In some languages, however, there are inflected forms of the infinitive denoting attributes such as tense, person and number. For example, Portuguese inflects infinitives for person and number; Latin inflects infinitives for tense. In several languages, including English, compound infinitive forms are different for present and perfect (e.g., "to sneeze" and "to have sneezed"). On the other side, some languages do not have infinitives at all, for example Arabic, Bulgarian and Modern Greek. In some languages the infinitive can be construed as a verbal noun."

"On the other hand" is better. It is clearer now, although there is still a contradiction with the first sentence:

  • Infinitives are not supposed to be inflected for person, number, mood or tense, yet some are.
  • If not being inflected for person, number, mood or tense is all there is to being an infinitive, then gerunds and participles should count as infinitives, too -- which we don't "want"...

Here's a question: why did the Romans call it the "infinitive"? FilipeS 21:26, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Is it possible that there simply is no general definition of an infinitive? I mean, I'm pretty sure that if English were some newly-discovered language that linguists were first characterizing, they'd label our gerund as a kind of infinitive. And with Portuguese, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't label its personal infinitive as an infinitive at all. I stand by my original proposal, which is to explain that the word infinitive means different things in different languages, give some features of infinitives that are common in most languages, and discuss variations on such. Ruakh 21:49, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

And perhaps different things for linguists and in traditional grammar... FilipeS 22:30, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Come on, Filipe. I was talking about the sentences above numbered from 1 to 7.
The Latin perfect infinitive and the Portuguese personal infinitive are infinitives because they cannot stand alone in a simple sentence, the clause they're the head of functions as a noun within the main clause, and the infinitives themselves can be treated more or less as nouns (although they function as verbs inside the infinitive clause).
Velho 13:11, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
There is a reason not to call the English gerung an "infinitive": it is an infinitive only sometimes.
"Eating good food is great." This is syntactically speaking an infinitive. The embedded clause ("Eating good food") works as a noun (or a NP).
"She's a sleeping beauty." Syntactically, this is not an infinitive. "Sleeping" functions as an adjective.
"I broke it throwing it against the wall." This is not an infinitive either. "Throwing" functions as an adverb.
Velho 13:19, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Of your examples, only the first uses a gerund; in your second and third examples, sleeping and throwing are participles. Further, the English bare infinitive cannot serve as a noun (*"Eat good food is great"), while the to-infinitive, which can serve as a noun, can also serve as an adjective or adverb: "This food is to die for (i.e. worth dying for)", "I have so much to do (i.e. that I need to do or that I can do)", "I went there to see what I could see (i.e. in order to see what I could see)". So, by traditional definitions, the gerund is more consistently a noun than the infinitive is. Ruakh 14:22, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
About indenting and readability: Ruakh, I think indents are ok, but they may go up and down, and not necessarily always up! I also suppose that the text of the section will be more readable if everybody always writes at the end of it. Velho 14:28, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
About gerund: you're obviously right. Sorry. About the to-infinitive: hmm, hmm, hmm... You're probably right here too. Anyway, the noun thing is not a traditional definition. Velho 14:28, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
And then again... Are you sure about the third example ("I broke it throwing it against the wall.")? Is it a participle? Indeed, I guess gerund was named "gerund" because the Latin equivalent to these sentences is made with a gerund or a gerundive (as amando or amandus/a/um). Velho 16:38, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Re: Only adding comments to the end: yeah, that should help.
Re: The name gerund: It definitely does come from Latin; indeed, the OED defines gerund as "A form of the Lat. vb. capable of being construed as a n., but retaining the regimen of the vb. Hence applied to forms functionally equivalent in other langs., e.g. to the Eng. verbal noun in -ing when used rather as a part of the vb. than as a n." That said, it seems to be well accepted that a gerund is always a noun. (That said, it also seems to be well accepted that a participle is always an adjective; in your throwing example, it's construed as an adjective modifying I. That's why people speak of dangling participles, which are participles that are separated from the nouns they're supposed to modify to the point that the noun they seem to modify isn't the noun they're supposed to. I think it makes more sense to take the participle as an adverb in this case, as Spanish does, but *shrug*.) Incidentally, the OED's first citation for gerund is the quote, "There be moreouer belongyng to the infinitiue mode of verbes certayn voyces called gerundes..whiche haue bothe the actyue and passiue significacion," which is a different way of looking at it from ours. (Not that a quote from 1513 is really relevant to the modern sense of the word, but I thought it might interest you.)
Ruakh 17:31, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

My thoughts on your reflections above, Velho...

It seems that there are two different concepts of "infinitive" (at least):

  • One is the old notion of infinitive, in the sense that it has been traditionally applied -- and still is -- to ancient Greek and ancient Latin, and to other Indo-European languages, but which may well not be relevant to other language families.
  • The other is a modern, syntactic definition which is general enough to be applied to any language, but won't necessarily coincide with the old concept of "infinitive" in all cases.

Why not discuss both in the article?

Another thing is that, particularly judging from your comment nr. 6, you are regarding the "infinitive" as an essentially syntactic concept ("It's part of a noun clause, ergo it's an infinitive"). That may be a useful perspective for those who study language from a linguistic point of view, but it seems to me that language learners are likely to be more interested in seeing the infinitive as a morphological category ("How many different forms of this verb-thingy do I have to memorize, and which is the simplest?") FilipeS 18:08, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Well, we're not far from complete consensus... I vote for two definitions, one of them morphological, language dependent and aimed at "language learners"; the other one syntactical and more useful "from a linguistic point of view"... You (Ruakh and Filipe) could go ahead and write them out, couldn't you?... ;-) Velho 23:44, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Honestly, after our conversation, I don't think I'm qualified to do that. :o FilipeS 16:32, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Proposed wording for lead text.[edit]

Here's my proposed lead text:

In grammar, the infinitive is a non-finite verb that exists in many languages; in English, the infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the preposition to: so, do and to do, be and to be, and so on are infinitives. As with many linguistic concepts, there is not a single definition of infinitive that applies to all languages; however, in languages that have infinitives, they generally have most of the following properties:
  • They head verb phrases which can contain objects, adverbs, predicatives, and so on.
  • They function as other lexical categories — usually nouns — within the clauses that contain them, for example by serving as the subject of another verb.
  • They do not represent any of the verb's arguments (as employer and employee do).
  • They are not inflected to agree with any subject, and their subject, if they have one, is not case-marked as such.
  • They cannot serve as the only verb of a sentence.
  • They are the verb's lemma or citation form (the name of the verb, often regarded as its basic uninflected form), used in giving the definition or conjugation of the verb.
  • They do not have tense, mood, aspect, and/or voice, or they are limited in the range of tenses, moods, aspects, and/or voices that they can use.
  • They are used with auxiliary verbs.
However, it bears repeating that none of the above is a defining quality of the infinitive; infinitives do not have all these properties in every language, and other verb forms may have one or more of them. (For example, English's gerunds and participles have most of these properties as well.)

Then I figured the sections on individual languages could mention the ways they deviate from this list.

What do y'all think?

Ruakh 02:09, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

I think it is a very good idea and it is very well done. Perhaps the wording of the first paragraph could be better, and one or two of the "properties" might be changed (especially the first one), but I think Ruakh's text could be inserted in the article right now. Velho 02:46, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
The first "property" could perhaps be "Infinitives head verb phrases which, as any verb phrases, can contain objects, adverbs, predicatives, and so on, and be c-commanded by a subject." Velho 02:51, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. It seems to me that in English, the c-commanding can go the other way: in for him to do it, it seems that to do it c-commands for him and hence him, but him only c-commands for. And in French, in something like J'ai demandé à Jean de le faire (literally I{{'ve asked} {to Jean} {of {it {to do}}}}, really I asked Jean to do it), it seems that neither of Jean and faire c-commands the other, as each is buried within its own prepositional phrase. Now granted, your wording only says that an infinitive can be c-commanded by a subject, but to me that sounds like "An infinitive can have a subject, in which case the subject c-commands it," even if what you meant was "An infinitive can have a subject, in which case the subject may c-command it." Ruakh 12:58, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Well... I just think that we should say that an infinitive can have a subject (as much as an object or an adjunct). Another thing: clearly, infinitives are non-finite verbs, but the current definition of "non-finite verb" is clearly wrong, especially because ti says that non-finite verbs cannot be "limited", which is wrong in every sense. It also says that non-finite verbs cannot work as predicates, which is even worse. Velho 18:04, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

It seems like the right direction to take, but I have a few comments:

They cannot serve as the only verb of a sentence.

Tone this down a little bit. Quite a few languages use infinitives as imperatives. (I know that according to Velho that makes them not-real-infinitives, but still...) I suggest "They do not serve as the only verb of a sentence."

They are the verb's lemma or citation form (the name of the verb, often regarded as its basic uninflected form), used in giving the definition or conjugation of the verb.

Tone this down, as well. Infinitive = name of the verb is actually a very modern-Western-European notion. In classical Greek and classical Latin, for example, verbs were named by the first person of the present tense (amo, canto, etc.) Besides, some languages have no infinitive at all.

They do not have tense, mood, aspect, and/or voice, or they are limited in the range of tenses, moods, aspects, and/or voices that they can use.

How are you going to distinguish infinitives from gerunds and participles?... FilipeS 18:47, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Replying to both Velho and FilipeS at once:

Re: "I just think that we should say that an infinitive can have a subject [...]": my text already does say that: "They are not inflected to agree with any subject, and their subject, if they have one, is not case-marked as such."

Re: the problems with Non-finite verb: I agree, and that really must be fixed, but I don't see that that affects this article.

Re: languages that use infinitives as imperatives: How about, "They cannot serve as the only verb of a declarative sentence"?

Re: the infinitive being the name of the verb: Well, how common is it? If >50% of languages with infinitives use them as lemmata, then given all the disclaimers surrounding the list, I think it's valid to include it without comment. If not, then I suppose it can be tacked on afterward in its own paragraph or something.

Re: Distinguishing from gerunds and participles: Unless someone can find a source that explains the difference cross-linguistically, I don't think we can really draw that distinction ourselves.

Ruakh 20:10, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

A suggestion for the first paragraph and the first property:
In grammar, infinitive is the name for certain verb forms that exist in many languages. In English, the infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the preposition to: so, do and to do, be and to be, and so on are infinitives. As with many linguistic concepts, there is not a single definition of infinitive that applies to all languages; however, in languages that have infinitives, they generally have most of the following properties:
My idea is to stress that, within each language, infinitives are defined firstly by a morphological criterion, that is, only after we identify a morphological category in verbs of a certain language will we call it "infinitive". And we will do it if it has some or most of Ruakh's properties. I suppose that we could even write "...name for certain morphological verb forms...". Velho 23:20, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Okay, since we seem to be agreed that this text is better than what was there before, I've instated it (after incorporating some of the changes the two of you suggested). Further changes are of course welcome; I just figured that since the previous text was obviously bad, we might as well replace it as soon as possible and make further improvements afterward. Ruakh 03:15, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

It's great! Now I think it could be useful to have a first section (after introduction) called "Infinitives and their definition across languages" stating how each of the general "properties" can not be applied in some languages. I'll do it today or tomorrow. Velho 18:40, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

I look forward to it. :-) Ruakh 20:56, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Alternate for INFINITIVE[edit]

Infinitive is also the name of a management consulting company based in the DC Metropolitan area (US). www.infinitive.com —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 209.183.210.226 (talk) 18:58, 14 May 2007 (UTC).

Infinitve inflection in NIA languages[edit]

"These are the only Indo-European languages that allow infinitives to take person and number endings. " This is not true. in NIA (New-Indo-Arian) such as Hindi, the infinitive can be inflected for gender, case etc. As in "jaane ke liye" (from the infinitive Jaana - To Go, Jaane - oblique case) or "meri jaani ho cuka hai" (Jaani for female gender). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 89.1.118.212 (talkcontribs) 10:35, 16 June 2007 (UTC).

Dare as the main verb[edit]

This seems to be able to take both the bare and full infinitive. To my mind anyway, both of these seem grammatically correct and mean the same thing:

He dares oppose us. He dares to oppose us.

Now, my source for the direct quote of the first is from C&C3: Kane's Wrath (level 2 or 3 I think), so I don't know if the writers used bad grammer, but it was definitely "He dares oppose" and not "He dare oppose" as the article on modal auxillary verbs suggests. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.40.245.148 (talk) 01:49, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

What you've come across is a verb that can act as a main verb -
  • He dares to oppose us.
  • Does he dare to oppose us?
  • He doesn't dare to oppose us.
and an auxiliary verb:
  • He dare oppose us. (Remember, you can't conjugate auxiliary verbs. What I've observed in video games, which Kane's Wrath is, is that sometimes the designers try to sound archaic or old-fashioned but they make mistakes. An imaginary example would be "He doth protest too much" when it should be "He dost protest too much." Impresses your average gamers but not your erudite ones.:)
  • Dare he oppose us?
  • He dare not oppose us.
In my opinion, nowadays we use dare as an auxiliary only in certain expressions, for example:
  • How dare he?! (Not "How does he dare?!)
  • I dare say... (Not "I dare to say...")
DBlomgren (talk) 19:27, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
I half-agree. I do think main-verb dare can take a bare infinitive for many speakers; for example, "doesn't dare do" gets 220 hits on Google Books, which isn't a ton but is far more than the 116 that "doesn't dare to do" gets. Further, there's not a clear line between dare as a modal auxiliary and dare as a main verb that takes a bare infinitive complement; some cases are clearly one or the other, but "I daresay" could be taken either way. —RuakhTALK 20:38, 9 August 2008 (UTC)
I argue that in this case "He" is the subject, "dare" would be the verb, and since "to oppose us" clarifies what is being dared, it is the object of the sentence-- a gerund phrase, and not the main verb. In other words, "dare" is not an auxiliary verb at all-- in any of the examples provided. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.181.44.227 (talk) 04:32, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Is 'does' an infinitive?[edit]

From the article: "...the infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to: therefore, does and to do, is and to be, and so on are infinitives."

I don't see how 'does,' or 'is' are infinitives. They are the third person singular form of the verb "to do" and "to be." (he/she/it does/is)

I think the intro could be better written along the lines of: "The infinitive form of a verb carries no inflectional information of the person, or number of any subject that may (or not) be involved; nor the mood, voice, or tense of the verb itself." It's short, sweet, and is true of all languages.

Quite right. The infinitive is a non-finite form, while is/does are finite verbs. --Doric Loon (talk) 10:26, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Modern Greek[edit]

An old Hellenic languages section was placed within comment tags so that it was invisible, and a new In Greek section was created. I've merged the two, but now the section is kind of a mess. Is there anyone who knows how the Modern Greek infinitives developed and how they are used and who can clean the section up? I'm familiar with Ancient Greek, but at a loss with regard to Modern Greek. — Eru·tuon 22:32, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

I'd like to see a reputable source (i.e. a scholarly work by a linguist, not a 'teach yourself' grammar) which says that Modern Greek has an infinitive. (When I worked on computer parsing of Modern Greek, the standard work in English was Mackridge, P. (1985). The Modern Greek Language. Oxford University Press. Doubtless there are more recent ones now.) Peter coxhead (talk) 19:34, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Should "most infinitives can take an object" be added to the "shopping list"?[edit]

The 2nd paragraph of the intro of this article is a laundry list of properties that "most" infinitives have "most" of. Isn't it true that, in most languages that have infinitives, the infinitive of a transitive verb can take an object? Eldin raigmore (talk) 21:12, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Intro's "laundry list" needs references.[edit]

Eldin raigmore (talk) 21:22, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Terminology as theory[edit]

Much of the article, and the comments here, are written as though there were a 'thing' which has the name 'infinitive'. Actually, linguistic terminology, like scientific terminology, arises from and is embedded in theories about language. English used to be described as if it were a language like Classical Latin or Greek; in this framework, an English 'infinitive' is whatever seems to be analogous to an infinitive in those languages. It's questionable whether 'infinitive' is a useful term at all in a truly stand-alone description of modern English. If it is, the case needs to be made purely in terms of modern English, and not by reference to other languages.

A similar argument applies to modern Greek. To call the form of the verb which is used after the auxiliary έχω (to form various tenses which didn't exist in classical Greek) an 'infinitive' is hard to justify by any definition. The form can't be used anywhere else, which is quite uncharacteristic of infinitives.

More generally, the entire article is grossly under-referenced. Inline citations are needed all over it to demonstrate that editors are not just expressing their pet views. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:22, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Use of International Phonetic Alphabet[edit]

Can someone who is knowledgable of Greek phonetics add the IPA transcription where it needs to be? It's quite unprofessional to not include IPA transcriptions. Not everyone reads Greek, and using only Greek without phonetic transcription (and I mean *real* phonetic transcription, not Romanization) makes that part of the article inaccessible to non-experts.

14.53.183.65 (talk) 01:19, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Portuguese infinitive inflected for aspect?[edit]

The article says:

The Portuguese personal infinitive has no proper tenses, only aspects (imperfect and perfect), but tenses can be expressed using periphrastic structures. For instance, even though you sing/have sung/are going to sing could be translated to apesar de cantares/teres cantado/ires cantar.

Does Portuguese have any kind of non-periphrastic aspect marking in infinitives? 143.54.6.199 (talk) 19:18, 10 April 2012 (UTC)

On recent edits regarding English section[edit]

I have reverted some edits by Capnprep. I'll address a few of his concerns:

1. Do as aspectual auxiliary. This is the only function of DO as an auxiliary verb and is its primary function within the language. The non-durational aspects in English (everything not progressive/continuous aspects) are marked by the aspectual auxiliary DO followed by its subordinate in bare form. English has two aspectual auxiliaries, DO & BE.

2. Do is not a modal auxiliary. It does not express emphasis / emphatic mood. Rather, DO when used as an aspectual auxiliary may be emphasized just like any other word in a sentence. There is no emphatic modal auxiliary in English. English simply uses vocal stress (or in type, boldface or ALL CAPS) to emphasize the desired element.

3. Perfection / perfecting auxiliary is valid. Perfect is not an aspect but rather a verb in any aspect may be perfected. Perfection is a grammatical category used to express completeness of a verb.

4. I have changed the repeated phrasing "Most auxiliaries" / "Most modals" to ...some... because this sort of generalisation is simply untrue and unfounded. If anything, of the modal auxiliaries, those that subordinate to infinitive form are at best in approximately 50% distribution to those that do not.

5. In the discussion of the various forms following make, I have once again removed the claim for passive voice. That usage is not in passive voice at all as BE is not acting as a vocal auxiliary but rather BE+MADE is acting as a single unit forming a modal auxiliary. Whereas MAKE as a modal auxiliary conveys internal force and subordinates to bare form, BE+MADE expresses external force and subordinates to infinitive form.

6. Within the section on defective verbs I have eliminated some poor and misleading examples while rewording others. That section comes close to conflating infintives with infinitive form and as worded was misleading.

Please do not revert any of these changes without first addressing and resolving these points here on the talk page.Drew.ward (talk) 07:25, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

OK.
  • Since there is disagreement about whether do should be called "modal", "aspectual", "dummy", or something else, and no particular need to decide one way or another in this article, what's wrong with just calling it an "auxiliary"? If you keep adding "aspectual", I will keep removing it.
  • Your analysis of be made is your analysis. If you disagree with the existing statement, you are free to tag it or remove it. You can't replace it with your own unsourced analysis.
  • I agree that the "defective verbs" section is poorly written, but your edits do not improve it. You confuse defectiveness (not having certain forms) and syncretism (not having distinct forms). And you are wrong: do does change form for tense and agreement. It simply doesn't have infinitive forms.
  • As you know, not everyone agrees that be able to, have to, and be going to are modal auxiliary verbs. And maybe not everyone will agree about "compound verbs" or "periphrases", so I'm going to replace it with the generic "multi-word expression".
  • "Perfection", "perfecting", "perfected" are not standard. If they represent a minority or individual analysis, they need to be sourced, and one might also ask the question "Is this article about infinitives the right place to introduce a detailed analysis of the English aspectual system?" In the meantime, I am restoring the standard terminology.
The onus is on you, as the editor attempting to add new content, to provide reliable sources for all information. Starting a talk page discussion is a good idea, but until you manage to achieve consensus here, your proposed edits should not appear in the article. CapnPrep (talk) 13:23, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
The onus is on you as much as it is on anyone else. Your claim that "be made" is in the passive voice is no more validly sourced than my claim that it is not. I can provide linguistic proof that my analysis is correct that meshes with multiple standard approaches as well as working cross-lingually. Unless you can do the same, you have no right to push one opinion (yours) over another. If it's in the passive voice, show how and why it is, and to the same end, provide an example of that sentence in the active voice. If it's passive now, that should be quite easy.
    • I am not wrong that do changes for for tense and agreement. Do you not realise this is present tense and marked for the second person singular? Did you not realise it at the time that it could be marked for past tense? Does such an analysis not make sense now? If not why?
    • As editors we all share the same onus or responsibility to validate and source claims made in an article. Before you make changes, validate them and do so not just by quoting a grammar guide or saying just because. Prove your views are correct! Especially if you are going to demand someone else do so, prove your own first. And, if neither party can provide acceptable proof beyond a list citing other people pushing their same point without acceptable proof either, then both versions need to be removed.Drew.ward (talk) 14:59, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
I know that do changes for tense and agreement. I invite you to read what I wrote above a second time, more carefully. You are the one that wrote in the article that "[defective verbs] are limited in form and lack infinitives, both bare and full, and do not change form to convey information regarding tense, aspect, perfection, nor agreement for person and number. This is true of auxiliary do…" And you just restored this same misinformation.
You misunderstand the notions of "validation" ad "sourcing" in Wikipedia. You can argue for your favorite analysis all you want here on Talk, but nothing goes in the article if there is no reliable source to back it up. A Wikipedia article must cite other people, and it must not do anything beyond citing other people. If you have difficulty understanding or accepting this policy, then keep your edits in Talk or in your User space, and stay out of the Main space.
You are correct that any unsourced material can be contested and removed at any time. I am reverting to revision 490459315 of 3 May, before our latest series of edits. You may remove any unsourced statements that you disagree with from this version, but any edits seeking to replace them with other unsourced material will be reverted. CapnPrep (talk) 15:38, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

Subjunctive[edit]

Why in the bar at the bottom of the article there is not the subjunctive mode for verbs? --Dejudicibus (talk) 18:26, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Presumably because it's a guide to lexical rather than grammatical categories - but in that case, I'm not sure why infinitive and so on are there (or what it's doing on the infinitive article). Victor Yus (talk) 21:17, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Use of oblique or objective case for subject of an infinitive[edit]

English usages such as "I want him to stop" or "For them to arrive on time, they'll have to leave now." illustrate the rule or principle that when an infinitive has a subject, the subject should be in the oblique (a.k.a. objective or accusative) case rather than the nominative (subjective) case ordinarily used in finite verb constructions such as "He stopped." I added this fact to the English language section of the Infinitive article, but wonder how widespread this rule is in other languages. I vaguely recall an analogous rule for Latin, that the infinitive takes a subject in the accusative rather than the nominative case. In English, usages such as "I want him to stop" are somewhat clouded by possible ambiguity as to whether "him" is the subject of "to stop" or the object of "want", with the infinitive "to stop" functioning adjectivally as a modifier of "him." However I think the second parsing is less reasonable. I am at best an amateur grammarian; attention from an expert, both in English and other languages, would be most welcome.CharlesHBennett (talk) 00:05, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

Your vague remembrance of Latin is right. Latin and Ancient Greek infinitives both usually have subjects in the accusative. The first example you gave might be translated this way in Latin and Greek. (Not sure about the choice of verbs in both and voice in Greek, but the syntax is at least okay.) Similar to the English, there's an accusative, infinitive, and main verb (literally "Him stop I desire").
  • Eum desinere volo.
  • αὐτὸν παύειν ἐθέλω.
Eru·tuon 00:51, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

Thanks. I added a section mentioning this, and referring to existing articles on Accusative and infinitive and exceptional case-marking which describe the phenomenon in more technical detail.CharlesHBennett (talk) 04:38, 23 December 2014 (UTC)