INFINITIVE COMPLEMENTS 7.1. What Are Infinitive Complements Infinitive complements can be integrated into: 1.

complement clauses (if we consider them from a structural point of view – see section 4 for further details). From this perspective, infinitive complements are part of the same class as that-complements: (1) a. I told her that she should be more careful in the future. (I-am spus sa fie mai atenta pe viitor). b. I told her to be more careful in the future. (I-am spus sa fie mai atenta pe viitor) One can easily notice the similarities existing between the two constructions, and the relatively synonymous dimension the two structures have. Other data that can be interpreted as arguments for this view (that infinitive and that complements share a lot of similar features) are the following: • like that complements, infinitive ones can be extraposed: (2) a. It is important that you should know what you need. (E important sa stii ce iti trebuie.) b. It is important for you to know what you need. (E important sa stii ce iti trebuie.) • like that complements, infinitive ones can be topicalized: (3) a. That you love her is something wonderful. (E minunat ca o iubesti.) b. To love her is something really wonderful. (A o iubi pe ea este ceva de-a dreptul minunat). • like that complements, infinitive ones can be subject to the rule of clause shift: (4) a. She wished with all her heart that every man in the universe should stay away from her. (Isi dorea din tot sufletul ca toti barbatii de pe lume sa stea departe de ea.) b. She wished with all her heart to be left alone by every man in the universe. (Isi dorea din tot sufletul sa fie lasata in pace de toti barbatii de pe pamint) c. * She wished that every man in the universe should stay away from her with all her heart. d. * She wished to be left alone by every man in the universe with all her heart. 2. non-finite mood structures (if we look at what kind of mood the verb inside the construction has) From this point of view, we distinguish between: • finite moods (such as the Indicative, the Conditional, the Subjunctive) (in Romanian we call these moods moduri personale) • non-finite moods (such as the Infinitive, the Gerund, the Participle) (i.e. moduri nepersonale) By convention, English grammar analyses non-finite structures as clauses, that can hold a syntactical function within the complex sentence (so, when one provides the syntactical analysis of a complex sentence, they will distinguish between infinitival clauses, gerundial clauses, participial clauses.) The main characteristic exhibited by non-finite structures, as opposed to the finite ones, is the fact that they do not have temporal features. For instance, the phrase to go there or going there does not express an event that is anchored in a certain time. The speaker cannot tell for sure when these events of going there happened.
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that is no ending.) The only verb that does not follow this rule is let: (9) The grass was let grow. (Ii place sa se uite adesea la tablou.) 7. (Iarba era / a fost lasata sa creasca.2. hear. They are known to be doing all sorts of vile things. To have succumbed to such base passions was a shame indeed. (A fost fortata sa se duca acolo. He knew her to have been knitting a sweater for a year. If the verb form has no temporal and personal features. A Classification of Infinitives There are three criteria we shall employ in this classification: 1. the infinitive construction is often subjectless (because normally the subject needs the Nominative case and the infinitive cannot assign it since there are no temporal and personal features.) b. according to which there are • long or full infinitive forms: (6) They told her to leave. (Era rusinos ca s-a lasat prada unor pasiuni atit de josnice. we can distinguish between: • unsplit infinitive (10) She likes to look at the painting often.) 2. (Se stie ca se indeletnicesc cu tot felul de lucruri urite. watch: they watched him cry An important thing to remember here is that by passivization. The verbs that normally require the bare infinitive are: The modal verbs: he can come any time Make: he made her smile Let: he let her go Help (optionally): he helped her climb the stairs Have (with the meaning to cause somebody to do something): he had her clear the table Perception verbs such as see. it cannot be in agreement with the subject and cannot assign it the Nominative case. the bare infinitive becomes a full form: (8) She was made to go there. the criterion of form.) • Split infinitive (or the “Star Trek” infinitive) 2 . • short or bare infinitive forms: (7) They saw her leave. according to whether an adverb appears between to and the infinitive. (Stia ca croseteaza o flanea de un an de zile) Due to this lack of temporal features.The only features these constructions still have are the aspectual features and that is why one can notice that the Infinitive has four tenses: • present : to leave • perfect: to have left • continuous or progressive : to be leaving • perfect continuous or perfect progressive: to have been leaving Here are a few examples with these forms: (5) a.) c.

PRO to forgive divine.) Object: (18) a. 3 . namely the agent of the event. I hoped for him to be there in time. In other words. the third criterion of classification refers to the way in which the logical subject of the infinitive is treated (I underlined the phrase logical subject. we say that the subject Harry controls the logical covert subject for which we have used the notation PRO: Harry is the controller of PRO. gets its case from the preposition for and can appear in the clause. So far. PRO to err is human.) From this point of view we can distinguish between: • Infinitives where the logical subject is not lexically overt: (13) Harry tried __ to leave. That is why this class of infinitival constructions is called the FOR – TO infinitives: (16) It is important for him to come back home. to use the appropriate technical term. it is still typical of relaxed speech. Since we have used the notation PRO for the logical unexpressed subject of the infinitive. we have mentioned the control construction and the for-TO construction. we call this class of infinitival clauses the PRO-TO constructions. because. (E important ca el sa se intoarca acasa. si crestineste sa ierti.(11) (12) She likes to often look at the painting. since its lack of temporal features precludes the assignment of the Nominative case – see previous subsection. the logical subject. uncharacteristic for literary English. (E omeneste sa gresesti. (E important ca el sa nu greseasca. so as to show that it is in fact Harry that performs the action expressed by the infinitive: (15) Harryi tried PROi to leave. we can co-index the subject Harry with the PRO form. or the control constructions. (A incercat sa o convinga ca este nevinovat. Captain Picard wanted Starship Enterprise to boldly go and explore the universe. this structure is more and more frequent in every-day language and is no longer considered so inelegant. He tried PRO to persuade her of his innocence. We place a gap between the main clause verb and the infinitive to show that the agent of the action expressed by the infinitive is not expressed. Further on.) b. as I have already mentioned. It is important for him not to err. that is something that stands for an item missing: (14) Harry tried PRO to leave. For a long period English grammarians considered the Split Infinitive to be a not very elegant construction. What is it that they have in common? a) the fact that they are not required by a certain class of verbs in the main clause b) both of them can hold practically the same syntactical function: Subject: (17) a. By convention we can name the missing logical subject PRO. we cannot speak about a syntactical subject inside the infinitive.) b. However. • Infinitives where the logical subject is lexically expressed in the form of a prepositional phrase introduced by the preposition FOR. 3. However.) In this situation.

Also consider the following examples: (23) I want animals to be tortured.) A good test by means of which you can decide which of these examples is an accusative + infinitive construction and which is a PRO-TO one is that of inference: for instance. him is not the agent of the infinitive. so called because the syntactical subject in the main clause is in fact the logical subject of the infinitive. from (23) you hopefully cannot infer I want animals. (S-a dat la o parte ca sa ii faca loc sa intre.) • The Accusative + Infinitive construction . This fact indicates that in the first case him was rightfully part of the infinitival construction. (A cumparat o casa noua ca sa o multumeasca pe cicalitoarea lui nevasta. him is related to the main clause verb. Semantically. whereas example (22) implies I persuaded him.) The interesting thing with this class of infinitives and in fact the reason why they are so called is that the direct object of the main clause verb is in reality the logical subject of the infinitive.) b. but in the second case it belonged with the main clause verb persuade.This means that the subject he is in fact related to the infinitive verb not to the indicative one.) Adjunct: (19) a. Since this item cannot get case from the infinitive it goes back to get the Nominative from the main clause verb: (25) He appears to be a good linguist. but the patient of the verb persuade. Likewise. not to the infinitive. This means that both (23) and (24) are accusative + infinitive structures.(Am sperat ca el sa vina la timp. (Nu suport ca animalele sa fie chinuite. the subject is not the agent of the main clause verb.) (26) He seems to be a good linguist. (L-am convins sa fie un lingvist mai bun. from example (20) you cannot infer the sentence I believe him. (Vreau ca animalele sa fie chinuite) (24) I hate animals to be tortured. but with the infinitive in the subordinate.) What is the difference between two examples that look so similar? The distinction lies in the fact that in (21). since the direct object animals does not semantically belong with the main clause verbs. We must distinguish between such examples as that under (20) and the following one: (21) I persuaded him to be a better linguist. In other words. But it is clear that he is a good linguist. The second example is not an accusative + infinitive structure. nor can you infer from (24) that you hate animals. 4 . • Last but not least.) In examples (25) and (26). He stepped aside for her to enter. (Pare sa fie un lingvist bun. but a PRO-TO one: (22) I persuaded himi PROi to be a better linguist. He bought a new house PRO to please his nagging wife. the pronoun him gets the Accusative from the verb believe but it is the agent of the verb phrase to be a good linguist. where the logical subject of the infinitive is in the Accusative and required by the main clause verb wherefrom it gets its case: (20) I believe him to be a good linguist. (Pare sa fie un lingvist bun. there is the Nominative + Infinitive construction . (Cred ca este un lingvist competent. hence you cannot infer something like: he appears or he seems.

endeavour.Compare these examples to: (27) I managed to get a good job. threaten.) Some of these verbs also allow a FOR-TO construction or a that clause: (32) a. So. mean. condescend. expect. hate.).TO Constructions In this subsection we discuss which are the most likely contexts in which these structures appear: a) verbs that imply the idea of responsibility and control: attempt.) d) verbs of mental state and linguistic communication: remember. omit.) c) verbs of liking and disliking: choose. seem. presume. desire. conclude. refuse. need.) b. ask. prefer. dislike. scheme. The last two structures are said to be lexically governed because they are required by special verbs (such as want. claim. (Imi pare rau sa aud asa ceva.free: .: (30) Shei wanted PROi to become a famous opera singer. etc. both of these constructions appear only with certain main clause verbs. The Distribution of PRO . with special semantic and syntactic properties.accusative + infinitive . deign. want.) Some of these verbs accept an accusative + infinitive variant as well. like. and you can infer I managed something. etc. (Se astepta sa primeasca un cadou scump din partea prietenului ei. scorn. manage.: (29) Ii cannot abide PROi to see such cruelty. appear. hate. Compare: (31) a.) where the subject I is the agent of the main clause verb. 5 . wish. Shei expected PROi to receive an expensive gift from her boy-friend. propose. (A cautat sa afle adevarul despre conditiile in care a murit Freddie Mercury. contrive. bear. try. To sum up the discussion.control constructions . forget. it is the fact that both of them borrow items from the main clause to round up their meaning. (Dorea sa ajunga o cintareata de opera renumita. (Mi-ar placea sa ajunga presedintele tarii.nominative + infinitive 7. etc. suggest. (Am reusit sa obtin o slujba buna.) b. (28) Hei sought PROi to find out the truth about Freddie Mercury’s death. decline. What is it that these last two classes of infinitive structures have in common? a) First. fail.for –to constructions . b) Second. seek (= try).3. In that they differ from the first two classes discussed above. agree to. deserve. I hate that you should say a thing like this. intend. (Nu pot suporta sa vad asemenea cruzime. which are said to be free. here is a diagram: Infinitive complements .lexically governed: . (Se astepta ca prietenul ei sa-i faca un cadou costisitor. etc. venture. care to. She expected her boyfriend to give her an expensive present.etc. I would like for him to become president of the country. afford. that is not required by certain verbs. aspire to. hope. this example contains a PRO – TO infinitive: (28) Ii managed PROi to get a good job. arrange.) b) verbs such as abide.

4. be important. (Exista tendinta ca instructiunile sa fie mai detailate. Direct Objects (39) a.) The more frequent situation is when PRO is interpreted generically: (37) PRO to love one’s parents so deeply is a natural thing. The Distribution of FOR – TO Constructions These structures normally appear in combination with intransitive verbs or adjectives: arrange. possible. (Mi-am amintit ca trebuie sa ma duc la posta. Ii would love PROi to listen to this concert. endeavour. (Mi-ar placea foarte mult sa ascult acest concert. The complement clause is usually extraposed: (34) a. bear. etc. (E imposibil sa existe un razboi intre tara mea si a ta.) The logical subject of the FOR-TO construction can be also represented by the expletive there subject as well: (35) It is impossible for there to be a war between your country and mine. Like in the case of that complements.) b. I remembered that I had to go to the post office. Subject Clauses In this category we can mention the less frequent cases. (Ca ei toti sa fie omoriti este putin probabil. Predicative Clauses (39) a. however.) b. (Este putin probabil ca ei toti sa fie omoriti. (Sarcina noastra este sa investigam detaliile legate de acest caz. verbs of liking and disliking. ( Este un lucru natural sa-ti iubesti parintii atit de mult. the preposition is deleted. It is however unlikely for all of them to have been killed. Ii remembered PROi to go to the post office. but the meaning remains.) 7. this is why we call these objects prepositional objects: 6 . (Era important ca ei sa fie acolo. Ouri task is PROi to investigate the details of this case.) b.) 7.) b. unlikely.) The generic interpretation of PRO is also supported by the presence of the generic pronoun one within the infinitive.5. The most frequently met subject FOR-TO infinitives are those extraposed: (38) It was important for them to be there. For all of them to have been killed is. I meant for him to be alone with her tonight. The tendency was for the instructions to be more detailed. desirable. (Mi-am amintit sa ma duc la posta.) 3. (Am vrut ca el sa ramina singur cu ea in seara asta.) 4. Syntactic Functions of PRO-TO and FOR-TO Constructions 1. Prepositional Objects They appear after verbs or adjectives which normally select Prepositional complements. where PRO is co-indexed with a nominal in the main clause: (36) It was nice of youi PROi to allow me to come here.) 2. stand. (A fost amabil din partea ta sa-mi dai voie sa vin aici.Most of these verbs allow alternative that constructions: (33) a.

Attribute This situation happens with: a) relative infinitive constructions (40) They bought her a book with which PROi to step on the path of knowledge.) d. (Este un sef care te pune la munca din zori pina in seara. Ii am curious PROi to see whether they will come on time. (Esti un prost daca te duci acolo. 6. This paint is like concrete to work with. (introductory) (Sa-ti spun drept. She is pretty to look at.the infinitive is viewed as an adverbial. not as an object because adjectives such as pretty.) b. You’re an idiot to go there.) c) adverbial of result (44) The plate was too hot to touch. you’re a bad driver.) b) adverbial of purpose (the most common function met with adverbial infinitives) (43) Ii slapped him PROi in order to calm him down. drept sa spun. curious about.) c. The stew is delicious to eat. Verbs of Obligatory Control 7 . conduci prost. (Este o fata care iti bucura ochii. (I-am tras o palma ca sa il calmez.: (42) a.) (48) Oh. (I-au cumparat o carte cu ajutorul careia sa paseasca pe drumul cunoasterii.etc. (Sint curios sa vad daca vor sosi la timp.) (47) I’ve never met him.) The distinction between relative infinitives and complement infinitives is similar with the one we made between relative clauses and complement clauses in a previous section. (Vopseaua asta este tare ca betonul.) e. (Farfuria era prea fierbinte ca sa poata fi atinsa. to tell you the truth. (final) (Nu-l cunosc. (Am hotarit sa ne reprezinte John. delicious. bastard do not normally require a prepositional object after them like in the case of adjectives like aware of.) b. (Tocana e foarte buna la gust. final or introductory infinitive In this case.(40) a.) b) complement constructions (after abstract nouns derived from verbs or adjectives) (41) Myi attempt PROi to escape her was a failure. sa fii iarasi tinar!) 7.6. (Incercarea mea de a scapa de ea s-a soldat cu un esec. to be young again! (exclamative) (Ehei.) (45) Will you be so kind as to give me the plate? (Esti asa dragut sa imi dai farfuria?) d) exclamatory. I decided for John to represent us. He is a bastard to work for. the infinitive is an independent clause: (46) To be perfectly frank.) 5. Adverbial Here we can notice several different cases: a) when the infinitive functions as a restrictive modifier .

direct.) (54) I leave it to youi PROi to take care of it. (57) He is to come any day now. count on. need. induce. grow.e.etc.By verbs of obligatory control we mean those classes of verbs that demand that only a certain nominal inside the main clause should be co-indexed with PRO. swear.: (53) He told the maidi PROi to announce her. permit.) The fact that only the subject he is allowed to control (hence be co-indexed with) PRO is reinforced by the impossibility of interpreting PRO as controlled by the indirect object her: (50) * He promised heri PROi to watch a new show. prevail on. i.) d) verbs of indirect object control (where the indirect object in the main clause must control PRO): tell. encourage. vote.) c) verbs of prepositional object control (where the prepositional object inside the main clause must control PRO): rely on. etc. influence. (I-a promis sa ii dea cadou un inel. He forced the prisoneri PROi to kneel down in front of him. etc.etc.) b.) b. nominate. Hei promised her PROi to give her a new ring. command. it normally appears after certain verbs with special semantic properties: a) A. seem. inform. promise. we can distinguish between: a) verbs of subject control (where the subject in the main clause must control PRO) – the most frequent case in fact: attempt. oblige. His curses inspired the boyi PROi to utter foul words himself. be going to. (Las lucrurile in grija ta.) In this category of verbs one can also mention a small class including: appoint.verbs: appear. (Se pare ca ii place de el. The Distribution of the Nominative + Infinitive Construction As previously mentioned. enable. press. (L-a obligat pe prizonier sa ingenuncheze in fata lui. be about to. (53) You may rely on mei PROi to help you.) With be going to there are two interpretations: • The Nominative + Infinitive one: 8 . (Trebuie sa soseasca zilele astea.etc. elect.7. Hei attempted PROi to murder his wife. (Te poti baza pe ajutorul meu. this construction is lexically governed. b) verbs of direct object control (where the direct object of the main clause verb must control PRO) – here mostly verbs of causation are included: authorize. (49) a. (A incercat sa isi ucida sotia. depend on.: (52) She elected her husbandi PROi to run the hospital. (In cele din urma ajunse sa-l simpatizeze. inspire.) 7. (I-a spus servitoarei sa o anunte. allow. that is with the covert logical subject of the infinitive. etc.: (55) She appears to like him.) b) inchoative verbs (or change of state verbs): get. (Injuraturile lui i-au dat ideea baiatului sa vorbeasca si el urit. (56) She grew to like him in the end.: (51) a. come. happen. urge.) c) constructions including the verb be: be to. etc. look to. According to this. etc. name. order. (L-a ales pe sotul ei in conducerea spitalului. choose.

have. etc.: (68) I believe him to be a genius.) e) verbs of mental perception in the passive: be said. believe. feel.: (62) They heard him insult her. find. (Accusative +Infinitive) (this is probably because he sings as a rule) to (65) Freddie Mercury was heard to sing last night.) An interesting property of physical perception verbs is that they can make up both the Nominative + Infinitive structure and the Accusative + Infinitive one.etc.) 7. be reported. suffer.: (69) I allowed the trees in the yard to be cut down. etc. However. (Am observat ca era cunoscut in cartier. know. (Cred ca este un geniu.) • with a full infinitive: get. (O sa intirzii/ lesin.etc.) 9 . observe. discover. hence there is no control situation whatsoever. (Ma intilnesc cu ea la 5). watch. judge. understand. In (57). The meaning of (58). deem. be alleged.etc. permit. the subject cannot control the action in any way (since we cannot speak about the intention of the subject to be late or faint). d) modal expressions such as have to or ought to: (60) Hei has PROi to tell her the truth. be rumoured.(58) I am going to be late / faint. cause. picture. order.) • neological verbs that require full infinitival structures: notice. (Te fac sa inveti asta cit ai zice peste. necessitate (67) I couldn’t get them to pay me my money. that of intention is well supported by the syntactical analysis. command. (L-au auzit insultind-o. imagine. remember. there is a clear difference in meaning between the two possibilities: Compare: (64) They heard Freddie Mercury sing last night.) • Control construction (59) Ii am going PROi to meet her at 5. (Se zvonea ca isi omorise sotia. consider. prove. occasion. (Nominative + Infinitive) (this was an exceptional occurrence. recollect.: (61) He was rumoured to have murdered his wife.) c) verbs of mental perception : assume. presume.: (63) I perceived him to be known in his neighbourhood. perceive.) d) verbs of permission and command: allow. (Am permis sa fie taiati pomii din curte. that presupposes the fact that PRO is controlled by the subject of the main clause.The Distribution of the Accusative + Infinitive Construction This construction normally appears in combination with: a) verbs of physical perception • basic ones that require bare infinitival structures: see. hear. overhear.8. (Trebuie sa-i spuna adevarul. be thought. (N-am reusit sa-i fac sa-mi dea banii. since he does not normally sing in public) b) causative verbs: • with a bare infinitive: make. figure. be considered. let (66) I’ll have you learn this in no time. be claimed.

we can speak about free constructions (required by no special semantic class of verbs): the PRO-TO and the FOR-TO constructions. (I-am permis gradinarului sa taie pomii. love. having to do with the presence of a logical subject inside the infinitive. (As vrea sa fie acolo la ora 5. wish. is connected to the fact that infinitive constructions can have no syntactical subject within them.) Like in the case of the previous class of verbs.etc.These verbs have the special characteristic that can be combined with PRO-TO constructions as well: (70) I allowed the gardeneri PROi to cut down the trees. The last criterion. mean. This happens because the infinitive mood exhibits no temporal features and is limited to aspectual features only.) 7. choose.: (71) I would like him to be there at 5. We can equally speak about lexically governed infinitive constructions (which appear after special verbs with semantic particularities): the Nominative + Infinitive and the Accusative + Infinitive constructions. about split and unsplit ones and about infinitives with no expressed logical subject or with an expressed logical subject. these ones allow PRO-TO constructions as well: (72) Ii would like PROi to go there. we can speak about bare and full infinitives. (As vrea sa ma duc acolo. expect. The logical test of inference offers the modality of checking whether a structure belongs to this class or not. desire. prefer. 10 . want. Their characteristic lies in the fact that both of them resort to main clause verbs to assign case to their logical subjects.9.) e) verbs of liking and disliking: like. Key Concepts The analysis of infinitival structures is built upon a few criteria of classification: from this point of view. From this perspective.

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