The base form- infinitive form

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The base form of a verb,sometimes refered to as the infinitive form, is the form found in dictionary entries eg. come, jump, etc


By the end of this unit you should be able to use and recognize uses of the base form of verbs

The base form of a verb has several functions.Here are some of them:

Now let us look at each of these uses:

Present Simple and the base form

You use the base form to make the Present Simple tense with the 1st person singular and plural subjects,2nd person singular and plural subjects,and with the 3rd person plural subjects(note that 3rd person singular subject is not used with the base form).

Here are some examples:You can say;I eat rice.I call her. We eat bread.We walk to school. You eat rice. You walk to school. They eat yam. All the examples are in the present simple tense,they express regular or habitual actions.

To-infinitive and the base form

A to- infinitive is a structure that has the preposition "to" preceding the base form of a verb. A to-infinitive can function as a noun as such it can be a subject or object of a sentence. For example: To eat is healthy. He wants to eat. In the examples, "To eat" in the first sentence functions as the subject, and "to eat" in the second sentence functions as an object.For more on to-infinitives see Further Reading.

Imperatives and the base form

When you give instructions,commands,or orders,you use the base form of the (instructed action) verb.This may (or not)be preceded by the subject (person or thing that is commanded).In this kind of sentence the verb could also (or not) be followed by a preposition to indicate how,when or where you want the action.

Now let us look at some examples:

1. Come. 2. (Ali/You)come.

Have you noticed that an imperative can be a one word sentence as in example 1, or a two word sentence as in example 2.Both sentences are the same although they are different in emphasis.

3.Come in.4.(Ali/You) come in.The word "in" is a preposition.

Now try one example of your own for each of the samples.Can you see that learning is fun.

Another function of the base form is rhat it is used with modal auxiliries to make requests, express probabilities,possibilities,and abilities.Look at these examples:

5.Could you come? 6.Ali can drive. 7.He may come later.

In our examples the words "could","can",and "may" are modals;the words "come" in 5&7 and "drive" in 6 are verbs in the base form


It is very important for you to pay close attention to the form of the verb in any sentence as an important clue to your understanding of meaning.It also helps you to write correct sentences saying exactly what you want.There is nothing like clarity!


Now show that you have understood the lesson;try out five examples of your own of each of the functions of the base form of verbs.Use different verbs please


Any good book on Grammar would show these uses of the base form of verbs.Collins Cobuild Grammar is recommended.

Amktouray 15:30, 26 February 2007 (CET)

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