What's the terminological name for the infinitive combination with "to" (infinitive + "to")

For example: to go, to sit, to say, to speak, to drink, to eat etc. This kind of combination is normally located after "want", or "go", think, etc. (For instance "I want to eat.")

  • "Want" is a catenative verb, so this is a catenative construction where the to-infintival clause "to eat" is catenative complement of the verb "want".
    – BillJ
    Dec 29, 2018 at 18:30
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    The two-word combination to [verb] is normally just called "the infinitive". Without to, it's called an "unmarked infinitive" (An unmarked infinitive is a to–verb without the to...). Dec 29, 2018 at 18:35
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    ...unless I'm missing something, it's archaic / dialectal to use an infinitive (marked or unmarked) after think. For example, He thinks to marry her isn't exactly "grammatical" to the modern ear, but it probably was in Shakespeare's time. Dec 29, 2018 at 18:40
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    The terms are 'to-infinitive' and 'bare infinitive'.
    – BillJ
    Dec 29, 2018 at 18:41
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    As @BillJ has pointed out, the terms are "to-infinitive" with to, and "bare infinitive" without. The to is called the "to-complementizer", or simply the "complementizer". However, the full complementizer is for...to, with for unmarking the subject NP and to marking the VP of the infinitive clause. Since the subject of an infinitive is often deleted or indefinite, the for part is usually missing; it's only required when beginning a sentence: For me to leave now would be a bad idea. Dec 29, 2018 at 20:37

1 Answer 1


To sum up the comments and to make them an answer. There are more that one term for "to + infinitive" as the following:

  • It's called infinitive (while the infinity without 'to' is called "unmarked infinitive". ) - (@FumbleFingers in comments)
  • 'to-infinitive' (while "to + infinitive) and 'bare infinitive' (infinitive without 'to'). (@BillJ in comments)

The 'to' component of the 'to-infinitive' is called "to-complementizer" or simply "complementizer" (@John Lawler in comments)

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