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This is from "A Student's Introduction to English Grammar" by Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum:

"There is no form in the English verb paradigm called 'the infinitive'. Infinitival clauses are non-finite clauses with head verb in the plain form."

My question is:

Why do the authors of that handbook state that there's no infinitives in English grammar whereas they, at the same time, introduce the term infinitival clause in which the adjective infinitival has its root in the term "infinitive"?

Isn't it causing a confusion?

(In my opinion it does.)

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They seem to be trying to reinvent English grammar. There will be teething pains.

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anonymousWhy do the authors of that handbook state that there's no infinitives in English grammar whereas they, at the same time, introduce the term infinitival clause in which the adjective infinitival has its root in the term "infinitive"?

Why do they do anything they do, one sometimes wonders. They seem to have a perverse habit of changing terminology which has been accepted for centuries — just to create mischief, I assume — or to sell books. Who knows?

anonymousIsn't it causing a confusion?

Quite a lot of their writing does that.

That said, I've picked up a lot of their terms and I use them myself, especially if I see that the student I'm working with is using that brand of grammar. (Do they even allow the word "grammar" anymore? I guess they do, but it won't be long before they tell us there is no such thing as grammar. It's all syntax.)

Emotion: angry

Emotion: rofl

CJ

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But seriously, I think (just guessing) that they are distinguishing between a form (which can only be one word formed by contiguous letters) and a construction (which can have more than one word).

"plain form" take (one word — a form)
"infinitive" to take (two words — a construction)

It's just possible that making such a distinction could be useful at times.

There may be other claims in the text you're reading which contradict my interpretation, in which case we'll just have to start explaining it all over again.

CJ

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