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Infinitives Showing Tense and Voice

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Elsewhere I’ve stated that the conjugated verb shows four things: tense, person, number, and mood. I’ve also stated that verbal phrases like the infinitive phrase do not show tense. Well, that’s true for what’s called the simple infinitive: to ride. We don’t know anything about tense.

But infinitive phrases can appear in ways that reveal a time dimension. (They will still not reveal person and number.) Study the following phrases and note how tense is seemingly revealed. Note also the ability to express the phrase in the passive voice.

Infinitives Showing Tense and Voice

to ride the horse (active)

the horse to be ridden (passive)

to be riding the horse (progressive)

to have ridden the horse (perfect)

the horse to have been ridden (perfect passive)

to have been riding the horse (perfect progressive)

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