Infinitives in sentences are qualify verbs, nouns, adjectives etc. and can be replaced with adjectives, adverbs.

Is it possible to use infinitives as object or subject complements in sentences? Please consider these sentences. Here I've used passive past infinitives as subject complement of each verb:

  1. He appeared to be punished for what he did.
  2. He is to be received the money.

Also, here infinitives are used as complement of its object:

  1. I allow him to go.
  2. I found this question to have been solved by someone.

Again, can we use infinitives as this way in sentences? I'm little confused about infinitives and the ways its usage in sentences.

  • 5
    Yes, they can, but not in your examples. 1,3 and 4 are catenative constuctions where the subordinate clauses are catenative complements of the verbs "appear", "allow" and "find" respectively. 2. is ungrammatical.
    – BillJ
    Aug 8, 2017 at 7:29
  • @BillJ I can't think of any situation where an infinitive is used as a predicative complement. "I considered it to be wrong"—is 'to be wrong' the predicative complement? Aug 8, 2017 at 8:01
  • 1
    @user178049 "Consider" is a catenative verb and "to be wrong" catenative complement with "it" a raised object. Infinitivals can be PCs, for example: "His intention was for the meeting to begin at six"; "This is to prevent the cattle from wandering off"; "This is to clean the lens with". Not objective PCs though. Gerund-participials can also be PCs, both subjective and objective
    – BillJ
    Aug 8, 2017 at 8:24
  • @BillJ A grammar book I've referred shows that verbs like 'appear', 'allow' etc. are said to be 'Verbs of incomplete predication' as they require another word to complete the sentence. So, I thought it would be right if I use infinitive verbs with this verbs to make sense. I don't know what the 'catenative constuctions' is and how to apply this rule in sentences, unfortunately. Aug 8, 2017 at 9:35
  • 1
    @BillJ Would you create an answer so that the OP and others can upvote and accept it?
    – Ringo
    Aug 8, 2017 at 17:27

2 Answers 2


Everything is fine except 2, but not because it's an infinitive.

Take 1 for exampe ...

He appeared to be punished for what he did = Someone punished him for what he did.

This is fine.

He is to be received the money = Someone received him the money (Fails).

Since receive doesn't take two objects it doesn't work. You can't use receive as in "getting something" passively. But no issue with the infinitive. E.g. He is to be given the money works.


He appeared to be punished for what he did.

This is correct. You can also say He appeared to have been punished if you want to emphasize that the punishment happened in the past.

He is to be received the money.

This is incorrect. You can say He is to receive the money or He is to have received the money, but it doesn't make sense to use the passive infinitive form of receive in this sentence.

I allow him to go.

This is fine.

I found this question to be solved by someone.

This is incorrect. Because found is past tense, the infinitive must also be past tense. So you could say I found this question to have been solved by someone. But it's more common to say I found this question solved by someone.

  • I see a problem with my own answer, but unsure what's wrong with it. Both "found" and "appeared" are past tense, so by my own logic both sentences should be ungrammatical. For some reason "appeared to be punished" feels OK to me.
    – Ringo
    Aug 8, 2017 at 7:40
  • 2
    Yes, but the question was whether the infinitival clauses can be used as subject and object complements.
    – BillJ
    Aug 8, 2017 at 8:17
  • No, there is nothing "incorrect" in his sentences save in number 2. They are far from felicitous, but they are grammatically justifiable. In none of them, though, is an infinitival used as a subject or object complement. Aug 8, 2017 at 8:52
  • @P.E.Dant Thank for you comment. Can you give me some examples for usage of infinitives as subject/object complements, or any reference for study? Aug 8, 2017 at 9:23
  • 1
    @YasmikaSaubhagya If you look at my message to user178049, you'll see three examples of infinitvals as subject complement.
    – BillJ
    Aug 8, 2017 at 10:14

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