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Non-personal forms of a verb. Infinitive - Part I



Mouse-over Spanish text fragments in red to see English translation
The 3 non personal forms of a verb are:

Infinitivo
Participio (past participle: verb+ed)
Gerundio (present participle or gerund: verb+ing)

El Infinitivo

In Spanish, the infinitive has 3 different endings, depending on the conjugation:

1st conjugation --> infinitive ends in -AR (cantar, bailar, trabajar)
2nd conjugation --> infinitive ends in -ER (haber, beber, coger)
3rd conjugation --> infinitive ends in -IR (vivir, salir, escribir)

At the same time, the infinitive has 2 forms:

Simple Infinitive: cantar, beber, vivir
Perfect Infinitive: consists of the infinitive verb haber + past participle main verb (haber cantado, haber bebido, haber vivido.)

The infinitive can be preceded by a preposition. While in English it is usually a gerund that follows a preposition, in Spanish it is always an infinitive.

Se fue sin decir adiós.
He left without saying goodbye.

Sueña con tener un buen trabajo.
She dreams of having a good job.

Uses of the Infinitive 1. The infinitive functions as a noun and thus can function as the subject of a sentence, direct object, and noun, adjective or adverb modifier.

1a. Subject: it can be preceded by the definite article "el"

(El) Beber un vaso de vino tinto al día es bueno para el corazón.
Drinking one glass of red wine a day is good for your heart.

1b. Direct Object: it can be replaced by the direct object pronouns lo,la,los,las.

Prefiero levanterme temprano por la mañana. (Lo prefiero)
I prefer to wake up early in the mornings.

1c. Noun Modifier:

Tengo la impresión de tener demasiada ropa.

I have the feeling that I have too many clothes.

1d. Adjective Modifier:

Sufre crisis difíciles de controlar.
He suffers crises that are hard to control.

1e. Adverb Modifier:

Los dos países están lejos de llegar a un acuerdo.
Both countries are far from reaching an agreement.

* Infinitivos nominalizados

There are some infinitives that have become common nouns and they can be introduced by an article or a possessive adjective. These phenomenon is called "infinitive nominalization". The most common nominalized infinitives are:

el amanecer (dawn)
el anochecer (dusk)
el atardecer (dusk)
el deber (duty)
el haber (assets)
el parecer (opinion)
el pesar (sorrow)
el poder (power)
el saber (knowledge)
el ser (being)

Nos quedamos despiertos toda la noche hasta el amanecer.
We stayed awake all night until dawn.

Día tras día cambia su parecer.
Day after day he changes his opinion.

El saber no ocupa lugar.
One can never know too much.