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The Rise of the To-Infinitive - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Rise of the To-Infinitive

Bettelou Los


This book describes the historical emergence and spread of the to-infinitive in English. It shows that to + infinitive emerged from a reanalysis of the preposition to plus a deverbal nominalization, which spread first to purpose clauses, then to other non-finite environments. The book challenges the traditional reasoning that infinitives must have been nouns in Old English because they inflected for dative case and can follow prepositions. In fact, as early as Old English, the to-infinitive was established in most of the environments in which it is found today, and its syntactic behaviour clea ... More

Keywords: infinitive, infinitive marker, finite clause, nonfinite clause, Old English syntax, Middle English syntax, Exceptional Case-Marking, grammaticalization, degrammaticalization, information structure

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2005 Print ISBN-13: 9780199274765
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274765.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Bettelou Los, author
Vrije University
Author Webpage