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Infinitives, Participles, and Gerunds

Infinitives, gerunds, and participles are closely related to verbs, so first recall what verbs are.

Verbs are conjugated (they show tense or time) and, when joined with a subject, form a clause.

example: The lion hunted the antelope. Hunted is the verb in an independent clause.

example: After the female lion moved onto the plain, she hunted antelope. Moved is the verb of the dependent clause and hunted the verb in the independent clause.

Infinitives are nonconjugated forms of verbs. The infinitive form of the verb hunt is 'to hunt'. Infinitives are parts of phrases.

example: To hunt antelope was the lion's main desire. Here the infinitive phrase functions as a noun and subject.

example: To hunt antelope, the lion first hid in the tall grass. Here the infinitive phrase functions as an adverb. Remember, adverbs indicate where, when, why, or how.

example: The best way to hunt antelope depends on the season. Here the infinitive phrase functions as an adjective (to hunt antelope modifies way).

Present Participles are formed by adding ing to the base verb and act as adjectives or parts of verbs.

example: Hunting antelope, the lion fed herself and her cubs. The present participial phrase Hunting antelope modifies lion and is an adjective.

example: The lions hunting on the plains did not reduce antelope numbers. The present participial phrase hunting on the plains modifies lions and is an adjective.

example: The hunting lion focuses on her prey. Hunting is a present participle functioning as an adjective.

example: The lions will be hunting antelope. Hunting is a present participle functioning as part of the main verb will be hunting.

Gerunds are similar to present participles in that both end in ing. But gerunds are nouns.

example: Hunting antelope can be difficult. The gerund hunting is a noun. The gerund phrase Hunting antelope is the subject of the sentence.

Like other nouns, gerunds can serve as subjects, direct objects and objects of prepositional phrases. See gerunds.

Past Participles usually are formed by adding ed to the verb base. The past participle of hunt is hunted. Past participles function in three ways.

example: Hunted by lions, the antelope scattered into the trees. The past participle hunted is part of a phrase that modifies antelope. It's an adjective.

example: The hunted antelope scattered into the trees. Here the past participle is a one-word adjective.

example: The lions have hunted antelope. The past participle hunted is part of the main verb (have hunted).

example: The antelope will be hunted. The past participle hunted can be considered part of a passive verb or an adjective (better to consider it part of the transitive passive verb will be hunted so that you recognize the transitive active verb).

example: The antelope that was hunted today was male. The dependent clause that was hunted today can be simplified to the past participle phrase hunted today: The antelope hunted today was male.

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