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2.12 The Present Active Infinitive

Make sure you are familiar with the Infinitive Paradigms page at this website, where you will also find some notes that you should review carefully this week along with audio for you to listen to. The infinitive form you are learning this week is the Present Active Infinitive.

A good way to understand how the infinitive works is to think about why it is called "infinitive" - have you ever wondered about that? The infinitive form of the verb gets its name from the fact that it is beyond person and number. It is "infinite" with respect to the subject of the verb. And English infinitive form like "to speak" does not tell you anything about the subject of the verbal action. It is 100% verb.

In Greek, the distinction between the finite and infinitive forms of the verb is even more clear. The present active indicative forms of the verb that you already learned in this lesson are called "finite" forms, because they are limited to a specific person and number. Each of the finite clearly identifies the person AND the number of the subject of the verb. With the infinitive form, no information is provided about the subject of the verb at all!

Technically speaking, the infinitive is actually a noun rather than a verb! That is because a verb has to have a subject. Having a subject is part of what it means to be a verb!

Yet even though the infinitive does not have a subject, it can take an object, just like verbs do. You will learn more about that in the next lesson. Meanwhile, for the purposes of this lesson, you will see how the infinitive can be used to complete the meaning of some verbs, just like in English. This use of the infinitive is called complementary infinitive. For this lesson, the verb that takes a complementary infinitive is the verb θέλω, I want. Here are some examples of how this verb takes a complementary infinitive in Greek, just as it does in English:

In general, the usage of the Greek infinitive is very similar to the usage of the English infinitive. For the purposes of this lesson, you should not find anything especially difficult about the use of the Greek infinitive, since you can rely on the English infinitive to guide your understanding here.

Biblical Greek Online. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. Page last updated: April 9, 2005 8:06 PM

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