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An infinitive is a verb form whose subject slot is blocked so that it does not function as the main verb of an independent clause. However, it does designate a situation core, so it may function as the head of a (non-finite) dependent clause. Morphologically, it is a non-finite form which is crucially not specified for person, number and mood. Other categories which may or may not be absent include tense, aspect and voice.

The infinitive is a kind of non-finite verb.

The infinitive is a kind of verbal noun.


Portuguese and Old Neapolitan have an infinitive that inflects for person and number.


See also


Linguistic Documentation, Universität Erfurt


  • Askedal, John Ole 1988, „Über den Infinitiv als Subjekt im Deutschen. Eine empirische Untersuchung anhand des Erzählwerks von Thomas Mann.“ Zeitschrift für germanistische Linguistik 16: 1-25.
  • Steube, Anita & Zybatow, Gerhild (eds.) 1994, Zur Satzwertigkeit von Infinitiven und Small Clauses. Tübingen: M. Niemeyer (Linguistische Arbeiten, 315).
  • Bech, Gunnar 1983, Studien über das deutsche Verbum infinitum. Tübingen: M. Niemeyer.
  • Calboli, Gualtiero 1981, „Le frasi interrogativo-esclamative latine e l’infinito.“ Geckeler, Horst et al. (eds.), Logos semantikos. Studia linguistica in honorem Eugenio Coseriu, 1921-1981. 5 Bde. Berlin & New York: W. de Gruyter; Madrid: Gredos; 4: 133-153.
  • Chierchia, Gennaro 1984, Topics in the syntax and semantics of infinitives and gerunds. Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts (GSLA).
  • Disterheft, Dorothy 1980, The syntactic development of the infinitive in Indo-European. Columbus, OH: Slavica.
  • Haspelmath, Martin 1989, „From purposive to infinitive - a universal path of grammaticization.“ Folia Linguistica Historica 10: 287-310. excerpt
  • Humboldt, Wilhelm von 1853, „Über den Infinitiv.“ Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 2: 242-251.
  • Joseph, Brian D. 1985, The synchrony and diachrony of the Balkan infinitive. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics, Supplementary Volume).
  • Leumann, Manu 1973, „Zum lateinischen Infin. fut. akt. auf -turum esse.“ Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 31: 129-132.

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