Dear friends I want to know what verbs called "certain verbs" in grammar rules because when I was studying some grammar rules I faced with this section ;

"The infinitive form is used after "certain verbs" : - forget, help, learn, teach, train - choose, expect, hope, need, offer, want, would like - agree, encourage, pretend, promise - allow, can/can't afford, decide, manage, mean, refuse ....

But I did not understand what "certain verbs" means.

  • 1
    It means simply: there are some verbs after which the infinitive is used.
    – Matt Gutting
    Aug 8, 2014 at 17:47
  • "The infinitive form is used after some verbs - …"
    – user9135
    Aug 8, 2014 at 17:50
  • It means that the author wanted to name some of the verbs that use infinitive forms without seeming to (a) list all of them or (b) appear not to know all of them. I.e, the rule isn't going into particulars. In this case, the list is way too short, and the verbs are of different categories (maybe that's what some of the funny punctuation is about; I dunno), with different kinds of infinitives and different syntactic rules applying to them. The result is that the information is pretty useless. But that's par for the course, I'm afraid. Aug 8, 2014 at 17:50
  • Have a look at the Wiktionary article on 'English catenative verbs', which gives better but not complete lists, and a reasonable coverage of the structures. Aug 8, 2014 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


In this context "certain" means a predefined subset. Usually it's used when the subset is fairly arbitrary, and to shut down discussions on how that subset is defined.

If the infinitive form was used after verbs that began with the letter "d", then the book would simply say:

The infinitive form is used after verbs that begin with the letter "d".

But because the set of verbs where it is used is fairly arbitrary, and generally only learnt through experience, the book probably doesn't want to delve into the rules, preferring to list a few common examples, and say:

The infinitive form is used after certain verbs.

I might say "my party officially starts at 9pm, but I've invited certain friends round for dinner at 7" if I didn't want to get into the details of which people I invited to the pre-party dinner party.

  • The problem with The infinitive form is used after certain verbs is that there are several types of complement clauses, of which Infinitive is one. Many verbs allow several different kinds of complement (like takes infinitive and gerund; enjoy takes gerund only; want takes infinitive only; believe takes neither -- but does take tensed embedded question and that-clauses). So, if it is true that "The infinitive form is used after certain verbs," does that delimit the verbs, the forms, or the complements? Unclear on all counts, alas. Aug 8, 2014 at 20:49

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