Infinitives in Spanish


The infinitive is the most basic form of the verb and is generally considered to be a mood which does not refer to a particular person, number or tense. In Spanish, infinitives always end in ‘ar’ (e.g. hablar) er (e.g. comer) or ‘ir’ (e.g. vivir). In English, an infinitive is recognised by the preposition ‘to’ in front of the verb – ‘to speak’ ‘to eat’ or ‘to live’.

An infinitive is a verb that is not inflected;it does not change in accordance to the subject of the sentence (yo, tu, el/ella, ud…) or to a particular tense (present, preterit, future…). Below are some uses of the Spanish infinitive:



  1. An infinitive can be used with idiomatic expressions that contain ‘que’ or ‘de’.

    Tengo mucho que hacer esta mañana.  (I have a lot to do this morning.)
    Mis amigos acaban de llegar. (My friends have just arrived.)

  2. Infinitives can be used as a command, usually in recipes or on signs.

    Mezclar los ingredientes en el siguiente orden. (Mix the ingredients in the following order.)
    No correr. (Do not run.)

  3. The infinitive verb is also used when forming the ‘futoro popular’. This is considered less formal then using the standard future tense. 

    ¿Qué vas a hacer mañana? (What are you going to do tomorrow?)
    Yo voy a subir la montaña. (I am going to climb the mountain.)

  4. An infinitive can be used as a noun and it is masculine in gender. In English we use the present participle of a verb to function as a noun, in which case we call it a gerund. In Spanish, however, the infinitive form of the verb is used.

    Leer es bueno. (Reading is good.)
    Fumar no es bueno para la salud. (Smoking is not good for the health.)

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