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El infinitivo

Each section of this page has explanations and guided activities to follow to help you learn. As with all learning activities, you will need to put effort into these structures in order to learn them.  You cannot be a sponge and achieve a skill to the best of your ability.  So don't just go through the motions.  Put effort into learning this, and take a break when you get tired and your mind is fried.  Come back fresh so you can learn.

Estudiantes de mi clase:  This information is also in your REPASO book:  Chapter 15: "The infinitive", páginas 226-235.


 Necesitas traer tu libreta y algo para escribir para tomar apuntos y una hoja de papel para escribir las frases mandadas.

Some información general:

Pues, ¿Cuándo se usa el infinitivo?

It's used quite frequently.  It is used when it is the direct object of a verb or a preposition, or when the verb is used as a noun, and in cetain specific types of phrases.  Vamos a ver los usos e informaciones específicas en lo que sigue.  ¡Toma apuntos, practica, crea y aprende!

El infinitivo como objeto de un verbo:

Muy importante: What's an object of a verb?  It's what receives the action of the verb.

Quite often the object of a verb is a noun:  Me gusta el español> I like Spanish.  Quiero un coche> I want a car.   Also other actions (verbs) can frequently be seen as the object of the main verb: Me gusta hablar español> I like to speak Spanish.  Quiero comprar un coche> I want to buy a car. So whenever a verb is an object of another verb, it needs to be in the infinitive form- a lot like English, ¿verdad?

If only it were this easy.  But we have to break this category down into groups- and this is where American students get confused sometimes.  We need to differentiate between verbs that are followed directly by an infinitive and others that need something between them and the infinitive.  You could memorize the lists and hope you remember them, but since language learning is a skill, you will learn them better if you practice.

Some things you already know because you've been using them for a few years already.  For example:  I going to leave.  How would you say this?  I hope you are thinking,"Voy a salir". How did you know it was "Voy a..." and not just "Voy..."?  Because that's what you have been using.  I ask that you pay attention to what you are doing in the following activities and try to learn (that would be tratar de aprender) how to use these expressions correctly.

Note: These lists are certainly not complete, but they are substantial.

Common verbs that are followed directly by an infinitive:
(Busca las significancias en tu REPASO o diccionario si no comprendes algo.)


*Recuerda:  Estos verbos se forman de manera diferente- me gusta (encanta, interesa,etc.)= I like (love, am interested in) Technically speaking, the infinitive is actually the subject (doer of the action)  in these sentences.

Reminder:  These verbs are followed directly by the infinitive. Look at some examples:

Para practicar:  Contesta las preguntas siguientes.

Some verbs require a preposition between it and the infinitive which follows it.  It might be an "a", or "de", or "en", or even "con".  Again, you can try to memorize these lists, but instead I suggest you pay attention to the frases que escribes y que  trates de aprender las expresiones.

Verbos comunes seguidos por "a" antes del infinitivo

acercarse a
alejarse a
acostumbrarse a
animar a
aprender a
atreverse a
ayudar a
bajar a
comenzar a
decidirse a
dedicarse a
echarse a
empezar a
enseñar a
invitar a
ir a
llegar a
negarse a
ponerse a
prepararse a
volver a

Some of these verbs are little more complex in meaning, and require some thought.  Pues, THINK!  How would you use "acercarse a"(= to get close, approach; root word- "cerca") with an infinitive?  Here's an example:  El se me acerca a hablar conmigo.  > He approaches me to talk to me.  Otros ejemplos: Me niego a escucharte cuando gritas así.  Me preparo a salir. Sometimes, an indirect object may come between the main verb and the infinitive.  When this happens, the "a" stays in front of the infinitive.  Ejemplo:Invitan a sus primos a cenar el viernes por la noche.

Contesta las preguntas:

Visita esta página de Learn Spanish on Line to practice "Ir a + infinitivo".  Recuerda enviarme los resultados del examen.

Visita esta página de Learn Spanish on Line to practice with the expression "volver a".  Recuerda enviarme los resultados de examen.

Verbos seguidos por «de» antes del infinitivo

acabar de
acordarse de
arrepentirse de
avergonzarse de
dejar de
encargarse de
jactarse de
olvidarse de
presumir de
terminar de
tratar de

Sabes qué hacer, ¿verdad?

Visita esta página de "Learn Spanish On Line" to practice with the very common expression «acabar de».  Recuerda enviarme los resultados del examen.

Verbos seguidos por «en» antes del infinitivo

consentir en
consistir en
dudar en
empeñarse en
insistir en
interesarse en
quedar en
tardar en
vacilar en

Otra vez.

Verbos seguidos por «con» antes del infinitivo

amenazarse con
contar con
soñar con

Verbos seguidos por «que» antes del infinitivo

tener que
hay que (había, habrá, etc. que)

Más práctica:  Mira la página 230 en tu libro REPASO y haz la actividad "C".


El infinitivo como objeto de una preposición

Without exception, the infinitive must be used after a preposition.

The only reason this causes so many problems for the American student is that in English we use the present participle (verb+ing) after most prepositions.  Look at the following pairs, and see how they are different between the languages.

Remember- NEVER use anything but the infinitive after a preposition.  The following is a list of prepositions that are frequently followed by verbs, of course in the INFINITIVE form.  Have I mentioned yet that you should always use the infinitive after a preposition?

La lista siguiente contiene unas preposciones muy comunes que son seguidas de vez en cuando por infinitivos.

Contesta las preguntas siguientes con frases completas que emplean las preposiciones e infinitivos:

Una actividad reflexiva:  Use the following list of reflexive verbs and make sentences in which you tell when you do one activity as compared to the others (antes de/ después de).  This will serve three purposes.  First it will help you practice using the infinitive after "antes de" and después de".  Secondly it will help you review the meanings of these reflexive verbs.  Finally it will help you remember to make the "se" change to "me".  Make a set of 3 "antes de" and 3 "después de" oraciones, sin repetir ningunas actividades.

ejemplo Me baño antes de afeitarme.

Otra actividad reflexiva:  Preparación para una entrevista en clase.  Prepara una serie de 5 preguntas generales para saber en qué orden hacen tus compañeros las actividades de la lista de arriba.  Trata de no hacer las preguntas tan obvias como la del ejemplo siguiente.  Al terminar con la entrevista, informa a la clase lo que has aprendido.  (By doing this activity, you will practice the same as the above, but you will also practice the "te" (in the interviews) and "se" (in the report to the clase) pronouns with these reflexive verbs. WOW! ¡Qué emocionante!

ejemplo:  ¿Te quitas las ropas antes de bañarte?

The verb as a noun

As you may remember from your study of nouns and articles, the infinitive form of the verb is used as a noun.  This again is unlike English.  What form of the verb do English speakers use for a noun?  The gerund- "ing".  We have already seen this difference in some of the previously studied sections of this page.  (e.g.-, I, etc.) .  Now, let's use the infinitive as a subject- just to get used to it.  Note:  Infinitives as nouns are always masculine. Also, remember that the "el" before the verb is optional, but I suggest you get used to using it- it looks good.  Look at these examples:

Now, copia y completa las oraciones siguientes.  Escoge 5.
  Now be creative and make a bumper sticker slogan using a verb as the subject of the slogan.

Some really special uses of the infinitive

1. After the verbs "ver" & "oír"

The infinitive is used after the verbs "oír" and "ver" to signify that the subject observed someone else doing something.  Huh?  Look at these examples to see what I mean.

Ready for this?  If you use the gerund (ing= ando/iendo) instead of the infinitve in the above sentences, the meaning of the sentence changes.  Huh?  Read on.
  Actividad de pensar y practicar: Now do some thinking....  Think of things you heard and saw people doing.  If you can't think of things, ¡miente!  (Imagine you saw them doing the entire action.)
2. Piensa: Cereal - The infinitive after a "Special que"

The infinitive often follows "que" in phrases like "something (or nothing, a little, a lot, or even something specific)" + to do (eat, read, drink, etc.)  Get used to using these types of sentences.  Look at the following:

Get it?  Just a side note, because language is never easy.  If the main verb is one of requesting, searching or needing, you use "para" instead of "que".

Una actividad para practicar:  Copia y completa las oraciones siguientes con "que + infinitivo".

Otra actividad:  Para practicar con para.  Como acabas de hacer en la sección anterior, copia y completa las oraciones siguientes, pero emplea «para» en vez de «que».
3. Los infinitivos después de adjetivos

¿Listo?  Last thing! ¡Olé! The infinitive is used after adjectives sometimes.  You know- It's hard to do, difficult to drive, silly to think, etc.  The rule (of course there is one!) is pretty simple to follow.

If an infinitive follows an adjective and it does not have a direct object or clause following it, put a "DE" between the adjective and the infinitive.

If a direct object or clause follows an infinitive that follows an adjective, drop the "DE".
Actividad para practicar: Copia las frases siguientes en tu libreta, y añade la «de» si es necesario.

So now you have seen and practiced all you really need to know about using the infinitive.  Is it really necessary to know this stuff?  Well if you want to use your español strictly to travel and have fun, no.  However if you are going to pursue further education in Spanish, or are hoping to use it professionally, you really need to master these- and all similar- sructures.  I guarantee you that on AP or SAT II tests these structures will be seen!
 ¡Buena suerte en todos tus estudios!

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