The infinitive is the simplest form of a verb. An infinitive tells you what the action is but not who is doing it nor when they are doing it. It translates into English as “to …” In Spanish there are 3 patterns of infinitive; those that end in -ar, -er or -ir. Examples are:
hablar – to speak
comer – to eat
vivir – to live
There are several common structures in Spanish that need the use of the infinitive. In this post we will look at these uses:
Quiero comer algo. – I want to eat something.
Necesito salir ahora. – I need to leave now.
¿Puedo sentarme aquí? – Can I sit here?
A preposition is a word that links two words or phrases together. They often show location, direction or time. Spanish prepositions include: de, para, por, con, sin, hasta, en, bajo, a, según, hacia, desde.
Antes de comer … – Before eating
Necesito gafas para leer – I need glasses to read
Sin parar – Without stopping/Non-stop
When you say you like doing something, you need to use the verb. Whereas in English we say “I like reading” in Spanish they say “I like to read”.
Me gusta cocinar – I like cooking
¿Te gusta nadar? – Do you like swimming?
Other verbs that work in the same way include;
Encantar – to love
Me encanta hablar en español – I love speaking in Spanish
Interesar – to be interested in
Me interesa conocer a mis compañeros – I’m interested in getting to know my colleagues
fascinar – to be fascinated
Me fascina aprender de los idiomas – I am fascinated about learning languages
To talk about what you are “going to do” you need to follow the structure below:
Ir + a + infinitive verb
Voy a trabajar mañana – I am going to work tomorrow
Vamos a ir a España el viernes – We are going to go to Spain on Friday
Van a llegar tarde – They are going to arrive late
Whenever you are talking about an obligation or something you “have to do”, the structure is:
Tener + que + infinitive
Tengo que estudiar – I have to study
¿Tienes que trabajar luego? – Do you have to work later?
Tenemos que salir pronto – We have to leave soon
To “start to do something” needs the following structure. You only conjugate “empezar”. It is the same structure whichever tense you use:
Empezar + a + infinitive verb
Empiezo a trabajar a las ocho – I start to work at 8
Empezamos a caminar a las siete – We started to walk at 7
Empezarán a comer cuando todos lleguen – They will start to eat when they all arrive
Es fácil aprender español – It is easy to learn Spanish
Es difícil recordar todo – It is difficult to remember everything
Es importante estudiar mucho – It is important to study a lot
When a verb acts as a noun, you just use the infinitive.
Hablar chino es difícil – Speaking Chinese is difficult.
Pienso viajar a India – I am thinking about travelling to India.
Jugar al tenis es buen ejercicio – Playing tennis is good exercise.
You can also use the infinitive as a command telling someone to do something:
Batir los huevos. – Beat the eggs.
No fumar – Don’t smoke.
Cortar las patatas – Chop the potatoes.
All of the verbs below are often used before the infinitive form of the verb:
aceptar – to accept
acordar – to agree
afirmar – to say/state
amenazar – to threaten
asegurar – to assure
buscar – to look for
creer – to believe
deber – to owe/should
decidir – to decide
demostar – to demonstrate
desear – to want/wish
enseñar – to teach
esperar –to hope
fingir – to pretend
gustar – to like
intentar – to try
ir a – going to
lamenter – to regret
lograr – to succeed in
negar – to deny
pensar en – to think about/of
poder – to be able to
preferir – to prefer
prometer – to promise
querer – to want
reconocer – to recognise
recordar – to remember
seguir – to follow / continue
sentir – to feel
soler – to usually …
temer – to fear
tener que – to have to
tratar de – to try to
1. Playing golf is difficult.
2. I like speaking Spanish.
3. I have to prepare the dinner.
4. I am going to buy fruit.
5. It is easy to forget.
6. We want to hire a car.
7. Smoking is forbidden.
8. I promise to practise Spanish.
9. He starts to watch a film.
10. Running is good exercise.
1. Jugar al golf es difícil.
2. Me gusta hablar español.
3. Tengo que preparar la cena.
4. Voy a comprar la fruta.
5. Es fácil olvidar.
6. Queremos alquilar un coche.
7. Fumar está prohibido.
8. Prometo practicar español.
9. Empieza a ver una película.
10. Correr es buen ejercicio.