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electrumBascially, you're right. but it's still an infinitive.
dictionary.com:
(in English) the simple or basic form of the verb, as come, take, eat, be, used after auxiliary verbs, as in I didn't come, He must be, or this simple form preceded by a function word, as to in I want to eat.

I thought of this oddity:
He should do take a survey...Wrong
The first thing he should do is take a survey...Right
Hi,

"The first thing he should do is take a survey...Right"

Isn't the "take a survey" a complement following the copula 'is' ?

Isn't the "The first thing he should do" a subject here?
electrumOops! That was intended for Avangi.
Before I came to EF, I always quoted the "pure" form of the verb as the infinitive.
Eg, In "He had been warned before," the main verb is "to be."

But in these forums I found many references to "the base form."

It appears to be identical to the infinitive without the "to," but in fact there are conceptual differences in terms of function.

I felt the distinction was particularly relevant to your post, as you were describing a situation in which the "to" may optionally be stripped from the infinitive - leaving us, according to your analysis, with the bare infinitive.

(And yes, there are many cases in which a particular verb calls for the true "bare infinitive.")

But I felt that was not exactly what was happening in your examples.

With all kinds of auxilliaries, the inflection is taken over by the auxilliary, and the main verb appears as the base form.

We could say that it appears as the bare infinitive, but we don't.

(Well, that's not exactly true. In some auxilliary structrures the main verb appears as the past participle: We have taken a survey.)

My feeling was that when you omit the "to" from the infinitive following the main verb "did," you're creating a different structure, which is possible because of the unique property of the verb "do." That is, it's no longer an infinitive.

I may be wrong.

CJ has given us the name of this unique property, "pro-verb."

The specific analysis of the structure, I'm afraid I'm unable to provide.

But I feel it's more closely related to the auxilliary structure "We did take surveys" than to the infinitive structure "We had to take surveys."

Edit.Dang, I suppose the main verb in "He had been warned before" could be "to warn." Emotion: embarrassed
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Anonymous"The first thing he should do is take a survey...Right"
Isn't the "take a survey" a complement following the copula 'is' ?
Isn't the "The first thing he should do" a subject here?
Yes and yes.

CJ
Thank you, CJ, for your reply.
CalifJim
Anonymous"The first thing he should do is take a survey...Right"
Isn't the "take a survey" a complement following the copula 'is' ?
Isn't the "The first thing he should do" a subject here?
Yes and yes.
I agree with you and Anon here.
I'm wondering if you could characterize this particular complement in some additional way.

Thanks, - A.
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I don't think base form is an establsihed grammatical term. At least, I've never heard it before. Wikipedia clarifies infinitive thus:

In grammar , infinitive is the name for certain verb forms that exist in many languages. In the usual (traditional) description of English , the infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to: therefore, do and to do, be and to be, and so on are infinitives.

It doesn;t mattere whether take a survey is used as a complement, predicate noun or as the consequent of an auxiliary, take is still an infinitve.
electrumI don't think base form is an establsihed grammatical term. At least, I've never heard it before.
I had never heard it before coming to EF, but it seems to make sense. We have nominal names and functional names. It does get confusing at times. I had never heard "pro-verb" until yesterday. I wonder what Wikipedia thinks about that one.

We have many schools of thought represented at EF. To some extent, each has its own vocabulary.

I wasn't really trying to promote any particular point of view - just looking for a concept that seemed to shed light on the special nature of "do," or "to do," if you prefer. We all agree that it's special.

Right now, all we seem to have is a name.

http://grammar.about.com/od/ab/g/baseformterm.htm

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/internet-grammar/verbs/base.htm

electrumSomething in the back of my mind for some time, but I haven't really thought it out:

. . . . . Anyone care to elaborate?

electrumI don't think base form is an establsihed grammatical term. At least, I've never heard it before. Wikipedia clarifies infinitive thus:
In grammar, infinitive is the name for certain verb forms that exist in many languages. In the usual (traditional) description of English, the infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to: therefore, do and to do, be and to be, and so on are infinitives.
It doesn;t mattere whether take a survey is used as a complement, predicate noun or as the consequent of an auxiliary, take is still an infinitve.
Hi,

"It doesn;t mattere whether take a survey is used as a complement, predicate noun or as the consequent of an auxiliary, take is still an infinitve."

I think it matters; it may be used as a fixed expression. By the way, we say: 'make believe', 'make do', 'let go' and use them as fixed expressions.
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Be careful guys, you're making a really common mistake. Actually generations of people have made this mistake and you've naturally been exposed to the ill effects of it.

Don't confuse infinitive with infinitive form. An infinitive is simply any verb out of context (a verb that's not being "verby"). In English, "run," "to run," and "running" (and perhaps one more, but if there is a fourth one, I can't think of what it is right now) can all be infinitives.

Think of the infinitive as a way to discuss a verb without having it play it's usual role in the sentence. It's like having a box with a chunk of antimatter suspended in the middle. As long as that antimatter is kept isolated from the "normal matter" world, you can look at it, move it around, talk about it, etc. But, as soon as you take it out of its box and it comes into contact with the "normal matter" world, it can never be separated out again. In fact, it meets up with other matter and they cancel each other out, so that once you mix it in, it's gone. Verbs won't annihilate each other and vaporize the Vatican (Angels & Demons) but, if you want to mess around with a verb simply as itself and not as a functional part of the verbal portion of the sentence in which it appears, you have to have a way of putting it into its own little box. The infinitive is that "boxed verb".

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When most people say "infinitive" what they really mean is "infinitive form" (to+verb). Most of the time when you see "to write, to eat, to..." it's not actually an infinitive you're dealing with, but simply a verb (which is a full fledged part of the verbal component of the sentence) in that to+verb infinitive form.

You see lots of "dancing around" the idea that people think anything with to+verb is an infinitive by the creation of goofy terms like "bare infinitive" or "full infinitive" or "infinitive complement" and such to try and describe the various situations in which they assume an infinitive is supposed to be, but the "to" is missing, or other situations in which they don't think "to" should be there and it is. Like I said, most of the time (and this is a very high percentage "most") when these forms occur, they're not functioning as an infinitive at all.

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Instead, try differentiating form from function:

infinitive form: to+verb

finite form: verb

Leave "infinitive" for the actual functional unit regardless of its form (eat, to eat, eating)

Calling to+verb an infinitive is like calling every usage of verb+ing a gerund.

Consider this: running.

Running is fun (gerund). Running is a transitive verb (infinitive). I am running a race (present participle). The running car is leaking oil (adjective).

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In most of your examples the reason the infinitive form is used in one while the finite form is used in the other is because the verb in question is following a modal auxiliary (will, shall, need, etc) and different modal auxiliaries subordinate to different forms. Some require that their subordinate (the verb immediately following them) be in infinitive form, while others require finite form, and others still allow both (dare and need in particular). Some modals actually look identical to others (as in have the same word in them) but are actually different not only in meaning but in structure as well. So sometimes you may have a modal followed by to and then not, but in these cases they're not actually the same modal, they just look alike at first glance.

On another forum today we had an example with 'made' in which one form followed it with the infinitive form and the other with the finite form:

"The pigs are made to drink spoiled milk."

"She made the pigs drink spoiled milk."

These sentences look similar. They have similar ideas, even similar modals, but in fact they're very different and that's why one has "drink" in infinitive form and the other has it in finite form.

(if you're interested, they're both active voice sentences even though the first one looks like it's passive. In the first one, BE+MADE (with 'made' being an adjective meaning "caused") is a modal auxiliary which subordinates the vector 'drink' to the infinitive form (because this type of modal always subordinates to the infinitive form -- it's the same type as BE+ABLE, BE+ABOUT, BE+WILLING, BE+READY, BE+HAPPY, etc.). In the second sentence 'made' (with the same meaning 'caused' and still expressing that same 'causative mood' is the vector (main verb) of the whole sentence. Because it's not acting as an auxiliary, it can't subordinate anything after it except as its object. Instead, in that second sentence, "the pigs drink spoiled milk" is the object of the verb 'made'. The object of this sort of modal (modal is anything that expresses mood, and not just modal auxiliaries) must be in a form of a clause in which the subject of the clause is whom/what is acted upon, and the verb (plus object if there is one) is what that subject of the clause is caused to do; that verb however, is always in finite form regardless of whether it agrees with the subject for person or number. There are precise rules like this for every auxiliary, modal auxiliary, or modal in general.)
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