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Writers' Center

Eastern Washington University

Grammar, Punctuation, and Sentences

Infinitives

An infinitive can be a noun, adjective, or adverb consisting of

“to” + verb (in its most basic “stem” form).

Side Note: Infinitives are NOT verbs.

 

Infinitive acting as a noun:

To cook the perfect omelet is actually very difficult.

Infinitive acting as an adjective:

Harper is always prepared with a pen to take notes.

Infinitive acting as an adverb:

Cole jumped the fence to escape the yappy dog.

Split Infinitives

One last thing to know about infinitives… You may have been told, “Do not split infinitives.” So what does that mean? In formal writing, avoid placing additional words between the infinitive (so nothing should come between “to” and the verb making up the infinitive).

Avoid: I like to quickly skim my notes before a test.

Better: I like to skim my notes quickly before a test.