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The Infinitive Constructions and The Ways of Their Using

St. Petersburg Institute

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The Infinitive Constructions and The Ways of Their Using


On the Subject

The Infinitive Constructions and The Ways of Their Using”

By Academic Subject

The Practice and Theory of Translation of English

Made by the student of

III-rd year

Kyosababyn Diana Rafaelovna

The record-book



Checked by:

The Head (Teacher) Badalyan L. A. _________



The List of Contents



Page #


The List of Contents.



Introduction: The Non-Finite Forms of the Verbs.



The Predicative Constructions with Non-Finite Forms of the Verbs.



Body: The Predicative Infinitive Constructions. The Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction.



The Subjective-with-the-Infinitive Construction.



The For-to-Infinitive Construction.



The Absolute Infinitive Construction.









The words of every language fall into classes which are called Parts of Speech. Each part of speech has characteristics of its own. The parts of speech differ from each other in meaning, in form and in function.

One of the parts of speech is the Verb. According to content, the verb can be described as word denoting action (the term “action” embracing the meaning of activity (to walk, to speak, to play, to study), process (to sleep, to wait, to live), state (to be, to like, to know), relation (to consist, to resemble, to lack) and the like. According to form, it can be described as a word that has certain grammatical features that are not shared by other parts of speech; they have the category of tense, aspect, voice. According to the function, verb can be defined as a word making up the predicate of the sentence.

The English Verbs can be divided into two main groups, according to the function they perform in the sentence – the finite forms and non-finite forms.

The finite forms have the function of the predicate in the sentence and may also be called the predicate forms.

The non-finite or non-predicative forms can have various other functions. These forms are also called the verbals.

The non-finite forms or the verbals, unlike the finite forms of the verbs do not express person, number or mood. Therefore they cannot be used as the predicate of a sentence. Like the finite forms of the verbs the verbals have tense and voice distinctions, but their tense distinctions differ from those of the finite verb.

There are three verbals in English: the participle, the gerund, and the infinitive. In Russian there are also three non-finite forms of the verb, but they do not fully coincide with those in the English language (причастие, деепричстие, инфинитив).

In English the verbals have the following characteristic traits:

They have a double nature: nominal and verbal. The participle combines the characteristics of a verb with those of an adjective; the gerund and the infinitive combine the characteristics of a verb with those of a known.

The tense distinctions of the verbals are not absolute like those of the finite verbs, but relative. The form of a verbal does not show whether the action it denotes refers to the present, past or future. It shows only whether the action expressed by the verbal is simultaneous with the action expressed by the finite verb or prior to it.

In the sentence a verbal may occur.

singling (without accompanying words)

Eg. She went away smiling. – Она ушла, улыбаясь.

Reading is out of question, I can’t fix my attention on books. – О чтении не может быть и речиб я не могу сосредоточить свое внимание на книгах.

in phrase (i.e. with one or several accompanying words – an object or an adverbial modifier to the verbal). The phrases form syntactic units serving as one part of the sentence. A phrase should not be confused with a predicative construction. Between the elements of a phrase there is no predicate relation as it does not include a noun or pronoun expressed by a verbal.

Eg. Not to disquiet his sister, he had said nothing to her of the matter. – Чтобы не тревожить сестру, он ничего не сказал ей об этом.

in predicative constructions.

Eg. She heard him open the door and go out the yard. – Она услышала, как он открыл дверь и вышел во двор.

All the verbals can form predicative constructions. They consist of two elements: a nominal (noun or pronoun) and a verbal (participle, gerund or infinitive). The verbal element stands in predicate relation to the nominal element. That is to say it stands in the subject and the predicate of the sentence. It most cases predicative constructions form syntactic units, serving as one part of the sentence.

Eg. The sat down to supper, Jerry still talking cheerfully. – Они сели ужинать; Джери продолжал весело разговаривать.

“Jerry still talking cheerfully” is a predicate relation to the noun Jerry, which denotes the doer of the action expressed by the participle.

Predicative Constructions with the

Non-Finite Forms of the Verb

The Non-Finite forms of the Verb are more simple and economical expressive means of thought.

Combinations of non-finite forms of the verb with a noun or pronoun standing a front of them form various grammatical constructions.

In English there are three non-finite forms of the verb: Participle, Gerund, and Infinitive. Therefore, there are three groups of predicative constructions. These are the constructions with Participle, Gerund, and Infinitive.

Participial, Gerundial and Infinitive constructions are highly varied. The structure of some of them is foreign to the Russian language, although their meaning can be fully conveyed in Russian with the help of forms, characteristic of Russian. The constructions are translated into Russian by objective, attributive, adverbial or other subordinate clauses.

eg. 1) My son having lost the key, we could not enter the house. – Поскольку мой цын потерял ключ, мы не могли войти в дом. (Participle)

Here Participle is translated into Russian as the predicate of a subordinate clause.

2) There is no mistake about his being a genius. – Не может быть никакого сомнения в том, что он – гений. (Gerund)

3) She heard him open the door and go out into the garden. – Она слышала, как он открыл дверь и вышел во двор. (Infinitive)

My course paper aims at analyzing the Predicative Constructions with the Infinitive, the ways of translating them into Russian.


Predicative Infinitive Constructions

In Modern English we distinguish the following predicative constructions with the infinitive:

The Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction

The Subjective-with-the-Infinitive Construction

The For-to-Infinitive Construction

The Absolute Infinitive.

I. The Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction

The Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction is a construction in which the Infinitive is in predicate relation to a noun in the common case or a pronoun in the objective case. In the sentence this construction has the function of a Complex Object. In translating the Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction into Russian there is always used a subordinate clause.

Eg. She is a wonderful teacher and I’ve never seen her lose her temper or get angry about anything. – Она замечательная учительница, и я никогда не видела, чтобы она вышла из себя или рассердилась из-за чего-нибудь.

I believe him to know this subject well. – Я пологаю, что он хорошо знает этот предмет.

I consider this question to be very important. – Я считаю, что этот вопрос очень важен.

Although, sometimes a sentence containing The Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction may be translated by a simple sentence.

Eg. The dread of the unknown made me recede (step back). – Страх перед неизвестностью заставил меня отступить.

He won’t allow himself do otherwise. – Он не позволит себе поступить иначе.

One’s gaze made me turn round. – Чей-то пристальный взгляд заставил меня обернуться.

His parents let him go to country excursion. – Его родители позволили ему поехать на загородную экскурсию.

She will never let him leave. – Она никогда не позволит ему уйти.

The Use of the Objective Infinitive Construction

The Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction is used:

After verbs denoting sense perception, such as: “to hear”, “to see”, “to watch”, “to feel”, “to observe”, “to notice”, etc.

Eg. I haven’t heard anyone call me. – Я не слышал, чтобы

кто-нибудь меня звал.

I saw David enter the room. – И видел, как Девид вошел в комнату.

After verbs of sense perception only the Indefinite Infinitive Active is used. If the meaning is passive Participle II is used.

Eg. I saw the fire slowly faded. – Я видел, как пожар постепенно потух.

If a process is expressed, Participle I Indefinite Active is used.

Eg. He saw Wendy coming – Он увидел, как Венди идет.

It should be noted that the verb “to see” should be followed by a clause and not by the Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction, when it is used in the meaning of “to understand”.

Eg. I saw that he did not realize the danger. – Я видел (понимал), что он не осознает опасность.

After the verbs “to see” and “to notice” the Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction is not used with the verb “to be”. In such cases Subordinate Clause is used.

Eg. I saw, that he was pale. – Я видел, что он побледнел.

When the verb “to hear” is not a verb of sense perception and is used in the meaning “to learn”, “to be told”, a clause or a gerund is used, but not the Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction.

Eg. I heard that he had left for France. – Мне сказали (Я слышал), что он уехал во Францию.

We have heard that she has found a job. — Мы узнали, что она нашла работу.

After verbs denoting mental activity, such as: “to know”, “to think”, “to consider”, “to believe”, “to suppose”, “to expect”, “to imagine”, “to find”, “to feel”, “to trust”, and etc.

After verbs of mental activity in the Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction the verb “to be” is generally used. But this restriction does not apply to the verb “to expect”. The use of this construction after most verbs of mental activity is more characteristic of literary than of colloquial style.

Eg. I know you to be the most honest, spotless creature that ever lived. – Я знаю, что Вы самое честное и безупречное существо из всех, когда-либо живших на свете.

If you suppose that boy to be friendless, you deceive yourself. – Если вы предполагаете, что у этого мальчика нет друзей, вы ошибаетесь.

Everybody expected her to marry Pete. – Все ожидали, что она выйдет замуж за Пита.

After verbs of mental activity the Perfect Infinitive is used, but seldom.

Eg. The doctor found his heart to have stopped two hours before. – Доктор установил, что его сердце перестало биться два часа тому назад.

In the Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction after verbs “to think”, “to consider”, “to find”, the verb “to be” is left out.

For instance, instead of “I consider him to be a good specialist” we can say “I consider him a good specialist” and translate into Russian literally “Я считаю его хорошим специалистом”. (This sentence is translated by simple sentence.)

After verbs of declaring: “to pronounce”, “to declare”, “to report”.

Eg. The surgeon pronounced the wound to be a slight one. – Врач сказал, что рана легкая.

She declared him to be the most disobedient child in existence. – Она заявила, что это самый непослушный ребенок на свете.

After verbs denoting wish and intention: “to want”, “to wish”, “to desire”, “to mean”, “to intend”, “to choose” (in the meaning “хотеть”) and also after the construction “I would like” (Я хотел бы).

Eg. He intended me to go with him to India. – Он хотел, чтобы я поехала с ним в Индию.

I want you to come and dine with me. – Я хочу, чтобы вы пришли со мной пообедать.

I don’t choose you to go by yourself to a hotel. – Я не хочу, чтобы вы жили в госитнице одна.

I would like her look to through my report. – Я бы хотел, чтобы она посмотрела мой доклад.

After verbs and expressions denoting feeling and emotion: “to like”, “to dislike”, “to love”, “to hate”, “cannot bear”, etc.

Eg. I dislike you to talk like that. – Я не люблю, когда ты так говоришь.

I hate him to be flogged. – Я терпеть не могу, когда его бьют.

I cannot bear you to speak of that. – Я не могу выносить, когда вы

говорите об этом.

After verbs denoting order and permission: “to order”, “to allow”, “to suffer”, “to have”, etc.

Here we find the Objective-with-the-Infinitive only if the object is expressed by a noun or pronoun, denoting lifeless thing or when the Infinitive is passive. This restriction does not apply to the verbs “to suffer” and “to have”.

Eg. Mr. Sinclair ordered his carriage to be ready early in the morning. – Мистер Синклер распорядился, чтобы экипаж был готов рано утром.

She had never allowed the name to John Gordon to pass her lips. – Она никогда не позволяла себе произносить имя Джона Гордона. (This sentence is translated by simple sentence.)

He ordered the wounded to be carried away from the field of battle. – Он приказал, чтобы раненного унесли с поля боя.

However, if the noun or pronoun denotes a person and it is followed by an inactive form as a rule the Infinitive is not a part of the Complex Object and has the function of second Direct Object, immediately subordinated to the Verb.

Eg. He ordered the prisoners to go away. – Он приказал пленным (закл-ченным) уйти. (This sentence is translated by simple sentence.)

The Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction is used after verbs denoting compulsion: “to make” (in the meaning “заставить”), “to cause” (“заставить”, “распорядиться”), “to get” (“добиться”), “to have” (“заставить”,”сказать чтобы”).

Eg. Light steps in the gravel made him turn his head. – Легкие шаги по гравию заставили его повернуть голову. (This sentence is translated by simple sentence.)

She caused a telegram to be sent to him. – Она распорядилась, чтобы ему послали телеграмму.

The noise caused her to awake. – От шума она проснулась. (This sentence is translated by simple sentence.)

I cannot get her to finish her lessons. – Я не могу заставить ее закончить уроки.

Though the Infinitive as a rule is not used with verbs requiring prepositions, the Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction is widely used with the preposition “for”. This construction consists of the preposition “for” plus noun in common case (or pronoun in objective case) plus Infinitive. These construction are translated into Russian by a subordinate clause, usually introduced by the conjunctions “что”, “чтобы” and at the same time the noun or pronoun of that construction together with proceeding preposition “for” is translated by a noun (or a pronoun) in the function of the subject of subordinate clause, and the infinitive is translated by a finite for of verb which is the predicate of the subordinate clause.

Eg. He waited for her to speak but she did not. – Он ждал, чтобы она заговорила, но она молчала.

Occasionally the Objective-with-the-Infinitive Construction occurs with the preposition “on” or “upon” (after the verb “to rely”).

Eg. I rely on you to come in time. – Я расчитываю, что вы придете вовремя.

I rely upon you not to go over to the opposition. – Я надеюсь, что вы не переметнетесь к оппозиции.

The gerund however is also possible here.

Eg. I rely on your coming in time. – Я расчитываю, что вы придете вовремя.

II. The Subjective-with-the-Infinitive Construction

(The Nominative-with-the-Infinitive Construction)

The Subjective-with-the-Infinitive Construction traditionally called the Nominative-with-the-Infinitive Construction is a construction in which the Infinitive is in predicate relation to a noun in the common case or pronoun in the nominative case.

The peculiarity of this construction is that it does not serve as one part of

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