Infinitives

Finite Verb: A verb that is limited by number or person is a finite verb. They always find a reason for missing the annual day function. In this example the verb find has they for its subject, hence it is limited by number and person and therefore it is a finite verb. Note: All verbs in the Indicative, Imperative and Subjunctive Moods are finite verbs, because they are limited by the number and person of the subject. Infinitive: A verb, not limited by person or number, is called the Verb Infinite or simply the Infinitive. They always try to find a reason for missing the annual day function. In this example, to find, merely names the action denoted by find, and is used without mentioning any subject. It is therefore not limited by person or number and hence is an Infinitive. Uses of the Infinitive Simple Infinitive The Infinitive, with or without adjuncts may be used like a Noun. 1. As a subject of the verb. To find fault is easy. 2. As the object of a transitive verb. I do not intend to eat. He likes to play soccer. 3. As the complement of the verb. His greatest passion is to sing. His habit is to read daily.

4. As the object of a preposition. He had no choice but to concede. The speaker is about to start. 5. As an objective complement. I saw him leave. Gerundial or Qualifying Infinitive The Infinitive can also be used 1. To qualify a verb, usually to express purpose. He came to see my father. 2. To qualify an adjective. In view of the impending storm, the tourists are anxious to leave. 3. To qualify a noun. This is the time to work hard. 4. To qualify a sentence. To tell the truth, I quite forgot the invitation.

Gerund

A Gerund is that form of the verb ending in –ing, that has the force of a noun and a verb. 1. A gerund, like the noun, is a subject of the verb. But like a verb it also takes an object, thus clearly showing that it has the force of the verb. Playing soccer is every school boy’s favorite activity in this country. 2. A gerund, like the noun, is the object of a verb. But like a verb, it also takes an object, which again goes to show that it has the force of a verb. I like reading non-fiction. 3. The gerund, like the noun, is governed by a preposition, but like a verb it also takes an object. He is fond of collecting antiques. Note: As both the gerund and the infinitive have the force of a noun and a verb, they have the same uses. Either of the two may be used in sentences without any special difference in meaning. The instructor shall teach me to swim. The instructor shall teach me swimming.

Uses of the gerund A gerund being a Verb-Noun may be used as 1. Subject of a verb Spreading rumors is a terrible thing to do. 2. Object of a transitive verb Children love playing in the sand. 3. Object of a preposition I have an aversion to procrastinating. 4. Complement of a verb. What I detest most is smoking.

Parallelism
Whenever a sentence contains a list or comparison, the items in the list or comparison should have the same grammatical form; or these items or comparisons should be parallel. 1. George loved to take charge, draw attention to himself, and he loved showing off all the time. The sentence lists three things that George loved, but those things are given different grammatical forms. George loved to take charge, draw attention to himself, and he loved showing off all the time. The highlighted phrases are not parallel. If these words have the same form, the sentence has a smooth formation. George loved taking charge, drawing attention to himself, and he loved showing off all the time. OR George loved to take charge, to draw attention to himself, and he loved to show off all the time. 2. Admit it or not, you’d like it more to sit at home and do nothing than going out and work. This sentence compares two things, to sit at home and do nothing to going out and work. The first phrase is an infinitive (to sit) but the second phrase contains a gerund (going). The sentence will read more smoothly if the items have the same form. Admit it or not, you’d like it more to sit at home and do nothing than to go out and work.

Infinitives and Gerunds
Using the law of parallelism often involves choosing between the infinitive and the gerund. Gerunds and infinitives, as mentioned earlier, are often interchangeable and usually play the same noun-verb role. But there is a fine difference when we use a gerund or an infinitive in different sentences. I like to dance. I like dancing. Saying I like to dance is very much like saying I like dancing. But the sentences are not identical. If you are unable to dance but enjoy watching dance shows, then I like dancing conveys your sentiment but not I like to dance. Note: The gerund is usually better for indicating a general class of activity, while the infinitive is often better for indicating a specific activity in which someone actively participates. Dancing in itself is a good work-out but is more suited to the younger lot. We intend to dance as part of our work-out hour today. The first statement discusses a general activity but the second one discusses a specific activity. Note: The infinitive indicates purpose more strongly than does the gerund.

Parallel constructions
Given below are some parallel constructions, which are common ways of phrasing comparisons. A is like B prefer A to B Neither A nor B The more A, the less B A more than B both A and B either A or B the better A, the better B

Not only A but also B Less A than B

not A but B more A than B

Note: any time these parallel constructions are used, two things must be ensured. First is the use of correct phrasing and second is the rule of parallelism, that is, A and B ought to be parallel in their grammatical form. Illustrative sentences to highlight ‘infinitive, gerund and parallelism’ errors spotted on SAT 1. To work hard is even more important than possessing great intellect. 2. I like working with Grace because she is very unassuming and has a lot of knowledge. 3. The benefits of bonus could accrue to both the board or even the shareholders. 4. The purpose of this project is ascertaining the benefits of a growing economy to the lowest economic stratum. 5. He has always loved to swim, although his condition has always prevented him from doing it himself. 6. I would not dream to sit for the exam until I have studied for it thoroughly. 7. Within the next three weeks we plan having all the project work completed. 8. The more you get to know her, the more you shall be liking her. 9. I can’t decide whether I should give Shane the money or Steve. 10. The student was only keen to having his teacher believe his side of the story. 11. As part of her week-long weight loss regimen, Martha decided to eat only fruits, exercising daily and to drink plenty of water. 12. His interests include reading, travelling, playing water polo and he also likes to watch cross-culture cinema.

Answer Key 1. Working hard is even more important than possessing great intellect. (working; having : gerunds) 2. I like working with Grace because she is very unassuming and very knowledgeable. (unassuming and knowledgeable: what she is) 3. The benefits of bonus could accrue to both the board and the shareholders. (parallelism: both A and B) 4. The purpose of this project is to ascertain the benefits of a growing economy to the lowest economic stratum. (infinitive expresses purpose more strongly than the gerund) 5. He has always loved swimming, although his condition has always prevented him from doing it himself. (since the person can not swim himself, the infinitive is inappropriate) 6. I would not dream of sitting for the exam until I have studied for it thoroughly. (to sit sounds more specific and immediate, therefore use gerund, which indicates a general plan) 7. Within the next three weeks we plan to have all the project work completed. (infinitive for expressing purpose) 8. The more you get to know her, the more you shall like her. (you get to know her; you shall like her – independent clauses) 9. I can’t decide whether I should give the money to Shane or to Steve. 10. The student was only keen to have his teacher believe his side of the story. (infinitive for expressing purpose) 11. As part of her week-long weight loss regimen, Martha decided to eat only fruits, to exercise daily and to drink plenty of water. (infinitive for expressing purpose) 12. His interests include reading, travelling, playing water polo and he also likes watching cross-culture cinema. (gerund to indicate general class of activity)

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