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The absolute is a grammatical construction which is absolutely independent of the rest of the
sentence. It is made up of a noun or pronoun and a participle, plus any modifiers which may be
used with them. The noun or pronoun in an absolute construction is independent grammatically;
it is not the subject or object of anything. It is modified by its participle.

The skier paused at the top, his scarf flapping in the breeze.
(scarf is the independent noun; flapping is the participle which modifies it )

All things being equal, I should rank highest in that exam.

(things is the independent noun; being is the participle )

The patrol cars, sirens wailing, converged from all directions.

(sirens is the independent noun; wailing is the participle )

Caution: Proper punctuation of absolutes is essential to the meaning of the sentence. The entire
absolute construction must be set off from the rest of the sentence by commas, as in the
examples above. Notice the importance of punctuation in the sentences below:

N1 LV N1
The house being finished is mine. (house = N1)

N1 V
The house being finished, the carpenters left. (carpenters =N1)

In an absolute there is no comma between the noun or pronoun and its participle. Study the
following sentence, which is correctly punctuated.

The president having finished his speech, the audience applauded politely.

If the reader saw a comma after "president," he would expect to find a predicate to go with it.

Verbals - Infinitives
The infinitive, which is signaled by to, is a verb form indicating unlimited action. The signal to is omitted after
certain verbs, in commands, and after certain auxiliaries. The infinitive may have an object and be modified by
adverbs. The infinitive may function as a noun, an adjective, an adverb, and also with auxiliary verbs.
The infinitive, used extensively because of its many functions, has four forms:


TO + STEM Present Infinitive to play

TO + HAVE + STEM + ED Past Infinitive to have played
TO + BE + STEM + ED Present Passive Infinitive to be played
+ ED Perfect Passive Infinitive to have been played

The infinitive as a verb form may take an object and be modified by adverbs. An infinitive phrase is made up
of the infinitive with its object and modifiers.
N1 V Inf Obj of Inf Adv
Example: . Karen liked to eat popcorn noisily.

DIRECTIONS: In the following sentences, circle all infinitives and underline infinitive phrases.

Example: The desire to live meaningful lives fills the hearts of many young people.

1. To have died for a cause seemed to him a point of honor.

2. Joan felt herself lucky to have been chosen the boss's private secretary.

3. What is the song which is to be played at their graduation ceremony?

4. To be picked the winner in a sweepstakes contest is one chance in a million.

5. John got a summer job to earn money for his college tuition.

The infinitive may:

1 . do the work of a noun

Examples: To write intelligent letters is a secretary's responsibility. (N1)

A good secretary likes to write letters. (N2)

2. do the work of an adjective

Examples: Bill has lessons to do . (Modifies lessons)

Grace needs friends to consult. (Modifies friends)

3. be an adverb modifying an adjective

Example : It is important to write letters. (Modifies important)

4. be used as an adverb to modify a verb

Examples: She came to write letters. (Modifies came)

He rushed back to the office to try again. (Modifies rushed)

Secretaries move from one place to the other to substitute for vacationing co-workers. (Modifies

5. work with auxiliaries and other parts of verbs

Examples: He is going to go .

He didn't dare go. (dare to go)

The to is usually omitted after such verbs as let, make, bid, dare, need, help, watch , and see. This structure
can be observed in the pattern (N1) -V-N2 + Inf ( Phoebe let him go.) and in command forms (Go find your pen.)

6. occur in the unusual Pattern VI as: l took Karen to be her - the only time you will find the verb to be followed
by the (N2) form.

In this construction the word (her-N2) following the infinitive simply renames the word before it (Karen-N2). It is
as though the infinitive were a linking verb between two (N 2) forms.


Wrong: Try and go with us tomorrow.

Correct: Try to go with us tomorrow.

DIRECTIONS: Circle the infinitive, label it I, and underline the infinitive phrase.
Example: She likes to draw charcoal sketches.

1. Several students are planning to attend the computer exhibit in New York.

2. To have taken a plane home would have been expensive.

3. Michael likes to ride the motorcycle near the beach.

4. The temptation to eat high calorie foods is constant.

5. It is a real honor to have been nominated for this prestigious position.

6. Sometimes people are quick to judge others unfairly.

7. Maria was prepared to be questioned by the committee.

8. Is it necessary to consult an economics expert?

9. Carlos is planning to take a Caribbean cruise in October.

10. All tax returns were to have been mailed by last week.

Name: ____________________________________________ Date: _____________

PRACTICE : In the following sentences, circle all infinitives and underline the infinitive phrases.
On the line before each sentence write the number from the list above which identifies the
function of the infinitive in that sentence.

________ 1 . The strikers decided to return to work.

________ 2. The right to vote is a more effective power for change than many people realize.

________ 3. The senators rose as they watched him raise the gavel for the last time.

________ 4. The teacher expects them to prepare for the test.

________ 5. "The time to establish values comes earlier in life than this, my friend," she remarked.

________ 6. He was so eager to run the race that he left the mark too early and caused a false start.

________ 7. We thought the noise to be them, but we were mistaken.

________ 8. I'm sorry, sir, but we have a job to do.

________ 9. Tell her to come back tomorrow.

________ 10. As they followed the mysterious path, they spoke bravely to each other to keep up their spirits.

DIRECTIONS: Within each sentence, circle each infinitive, and underline the infinitive phrase. Draw an arrow to
any word modified by an infinitive.

1. The children wanted to apologize to the old man when they trampled through his flower bed

trying to catch their dog.

2. The athletes considered it an honor to be invited to dine at the White House with the President.

3. To be accepted at an Ivy League college, one must work to maintain a outstanding record.

4. The man's dream to succeed in his own business, was soon to be recognized as a reality.

5. They had planned to have all their studying completed by ten o'clock but did not anticipate that

they would have to have more information to complete their project.

6. The distraught parents refused to believe that anything tragic would happen to their lost

daughter, as they waited with friends who tried to comfort them.

7. When the police began to search for clues in the robbery at the mayor's mansion, they found

telephone wires and alarm cables which appeared to have been cut by the thieves.

8. The former governor advised them to work with their elected leaders to make their country a

stronger place in which to live.

9. We tried to convince her to join us on our cross-country trip to visit colleges on the Coast.

10. To have seen the enthusiasm and determination on the young gymnast's face as she began to

prepare her routine for competition was a joy to behold for her trainers.


DIRECTIONS: To review the basic sentence patterns and the use of the infinitive, pattern each of the following
sentences, labeling all words.
1. To criticize deflates.

2. To postpone creates disorganization..

3. To improve is easy.

4. To verify is to check.

5. To complain gives oneself comfort.

6. To understand makes one an expert.

7. To proofread makes a secretary certain.


DIRECTIONS: In the following sentences, circle all infinitives and underline infinitive phrases. Identify the use of
the infinitive at the end of the sentence.
1. The children loved to ride in an open convertible.

2. It was such a thrill to have their hair blowing in the breeze.

3. John would have loved to have gone with the boys to the ball park.

4. However, he had to stay at home to await an important phone call for his father.

5. Each time he heard a noise, he imagined the phone to be ringing.

6. John pretended to be studying as he attempted to listen to portions of the ball game.

7. The teacher believed the material to have been covered last week.

8. The students who were believed to have studied, failed to pass the test.

9. The reason for this prenatal program is to prepare women for childbirth.

10. The children were disappointed to have missed seeing their favorite TV personality.


DIRECTIONS: Underline the verbal or verbal phrase, and find the pattern in each sentence.
Part N1 V Part
1. Approaching the docks, the yachting crew was warmly greeted (by a cheering crowd.)
Gerund N1 LV Gerund N1
2. Hearing a speech (of Winston Churchill's) was experiencing a moment (of greatness.)
Inf N1 LV Adj
3. To write a successful composition is essential (to a student.)

1. There is a motive for his requesting the confidential files.

2. His favorite high school subject is typing.

3. The contest voters gave speaking a five point score in the pageant.

4. The rhythmic slapping of the surf against the sea was a pleasant change for the city dwellers.

5. All Steve ever wanted was to have been recognized during his career.

6. To have cried over something so trite seemed foolish to her friends.

7. Ordering accurately saves time and money.

8. Satisfying customers is part of any company's success.

9. The company's president believes that delegating duties is a necessity.

10. The teacher's trait, laughing, kept the class lively.


DIRECTIONS: Underline all absolute constructions, and insert commas where they are needed. Label the
independent noun and the participle which modifies it.
Example: The plot being exciting, Nora continued to read the novel.

1. Before me lay a mud wasp's nest its occupants buzzing angrily.

2. His glasses being smashed he was almost helpless.

3. Around the bend I saw a 1932 Buick sedan its original paint gleaming in the sunlight.

4. The barn door two of its hinges having been replaced no longer sagged.

5. A motor launch sped by the boat on its port side being swamped by the waves.

6. His hat having blown away Martin struggling to keep his footing on the icy sidewalk pursued it down the street.

7. The enraged ocean its waves crashing against the reef sent tons of water into the usually calm harbor.

8. Within two months the ad campaign was put into effect its main purpose being extending its product interest to

younger buyers.

9. She lay on the sand after a morning of surfing the sun warming her tired and aching muscles.

10. The professor having completed his lecture the class asked questions.


DIRECTIONS: Rewrite the following sentences changing one clause in each sentence to an absolute

1. Travel is difficult in the winter; therefore, we take the bus.

2. Her credentials are impressive; therefore, I shall hire her.

3. The child looked out of the window as the rain pounded on the pane.

4. The coat is his; so he wore it.

5. The play was monotonous; we left during the intermission.