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Exercise in Identifying Infinitive Phrases

Practice in Distinguishing Infinitive Phrases From Prepositional Phrases


Exercise in Identifying Infinitive Phrases

These lyrics from "The Wind," a song by Cat Stevens (Teaser and the Firecat, 1971), include both a prepositional phrase ("to my words") and an infinitive ("to go").

An infinitive is a verbal--usually preceded by the particle to--that can function in a sentence as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. This exercise will test your ability to recognize infinitive phrases and distinguish them from prepositional phrases.


Each sentence below contains at least one infinitive phrase. Some (but not all) of the sentences also include prepositional phrases beginning with to. Identify only the infinitive phrase(s) in each sentence, and then compare your responses with the answers on page two.

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  1. More than anything else, I wanted some time alone to read.

  2. My grandmother told me that we have been put on earth to share, to care, to give, and to receive.

  3. While the train was stopped at the station, Bugsy attempted to climb to the top of one of the freight cars.

  4. "Mama Day tells the citizens of the island to listen to the crows instead of the news bulletins." (Gloria Naylor, Mama Day)

  5. During the Great Depression, audiences wanted to laugh when they went to the movies.

  6. Every Wednesday, six women from Wisbech came to the castle to do the weekly wash.

  7. On the last night of the retreat, we wanted to sing a song to end an evening that had been particularly touching to us all.

  8. The duke left the duchess at a Red Roof Inn and proceeded to drive to the country to see his mother.

  9. At the end of their long adventure, Lucy and Edmund are told that they are too old to return to Narnia again.

  10. "Within each Ring of Plague Sabine had organized, there was a complete assortment of powers: one to fight with ice, one to see through soil, one to throw lightning, one to fly, one to fade, one to shrink, one to breathe fire, one to run like the wind, one to burrow, one to see through rock, one to levitate objects, and one to push and bind dreams." (Obert Skye, Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret)

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