Infinitives

“Infinitive” is a long fancy word that you could simply take to mean “the basic root form of the verb”. In English, the infinitive form is typically given by simply preceding the dictionary-entry verb with the word “to”. That is, “to talk”, “to speak”, and “to eat” are all considered English infinitive forms.

As you can see from those English examples, this form of a verb does not indicate any present, past, or future sense. It also does not indicate any particular subject (I, you, he, she, they).

The Talossan infinitive verb form is very easy to recognise when you see it. If you see a Talossan word that ends with -arh, you are almost certainly looking at a Talossan infinitive verb. For example, risguardarh (= to look), vidarh (= to see), parlarh (= to talk or speak), üscüdarh (= to listen or hear), scríuarh (= to write), and lirarh (= to read).

There are some infinitive verb forms that end with -irh rather than -arh. The two of these that should be mentioned here are tirh (= to have) and irh (= to come or go). Remember, though, that these verbs are irregularly pronounced, so that even they — just like all the other infinitive verbs, that end in -arh — all end with a syllable rhyming with the English word “posh” or (when the infinitive ending is not stressed, rhyming with the English word “mush”).

Since the infinitive form does not convey any information about the subject that is performing the verb, and also does not convey any information about the time (present, past, etc.) when the verbal action is performed, you might think that the infinitive form is not very useful, and not often used. That, however, is not true. Simply read through these pages (or any English text) slowly and you will see plenty of instances where the verb form “to X” is used.

You will find that (in both English and Talossan) the infinitive form is typically found used in two cases:

  • After another verb (which means it is appearing in a “compound verb” combination or phrase). For example, “I like to cook”, and “They want to eat early.”
  • To refer to a verbal action as a noun. For example, “To read is to live”.

We are going to speak about each of these cases separately.

Dependent Infinitives

In a phrase such as “He likes to be busy”, the verb “to be” appears in the infinitive form. Notice, however, that it is “dependent” on the preceding verb. And that verb, “to like”, has been conjugated to match the subject (“he”) and the tense (present tense). The point here is that the infinitive form should only be used once any subject and time has been established by the use of a conjugated form of another, preceding, verb.

The most common mistake made by English speakers who are new to Talossan is to simply look up the verb in the online translator, and use it, unconjugated. Remember that if you fail to conjugate a verb, you get the infinitive (“to X”) form, and so to write a sentence such as éu esperarh menxharh, you are saying “I to hope to eat”. In such a phrase, remember that the first verb (in this case, esperarh, meaning “to hope”) must be conjugated. Only the second verb in the phrase is proper in the infinitive form (in both Talossan and in English).

From this, you would likely conclude that this example sentence (“I hope to eat”) should be éu esperéu menxharh. You would be close, but not exactly right. We’re missing one thing, and it’s the same thing that would be missing in English if the sentence were written “I hope eat”. Yes, we’re missing the word “to”, which is called a “linking preposition”.

English uses only the word “to” as its linking preposition. Talossan actually has two words that can be used. The first of these is à (= to), and the second is da (= from). The preposition à (in its form àd or àð before vowels) is used to introduce a positive infinitive (“to do something”) while da introduces a negative infinitive (“to not do something”). For example, començeveu à menxharh (= I began to eat [I began eating]), and ceßeveu da menxharh (= I quit [from] eating). As another example, consider esteveu à naxharh (= I used to swim) and esteveu da naxharh (= I used to not swim; i.e., I used to avoid swimming).

In Talossan, you should always use a linking preposition to introduce a dependent infinitive…well, almost always. As it turns out, there are eight specific verbs after which you should not use a linking preposition to introduce an infinitive. Don’t be too scared by this, though — believe it or not, this is exactly the same kind of exception you’re already very used to making in English, probably without knowing you’re doing it. You see, English has exactly the same kind of quirk: consider how “I hope to eat”, “I want to eat” and “I like to eat” all use the linking preposition, but “I can eat”, “I should eat”, and “I must eat” all do not.

The eight Talossan verbs that (after appearing properly conjugated in a compound verb phrase) should not be followed by a linking preposition, but instead should be directly followed by an infinitive form are:

  • amarh (= to like to, to love to). For example, éu améu menxharh (= I like to eat), not éu améu à menxharh.
  • fóstarh (= to be obliged to). For example, éu fost menxharh (= I should eat), not éu fost à menxharh.
  • irh (= to be going to [i.e., “will”]). For example, éu véu menxharh (= I am going to eat [I will eat]), not éu véu à menxharh.
  • laßarh (= to allow to). For example, se laßéu menxharh (= I allow myself to eat), not se laßéu à menxharh.
  • pevarh (= to be able to [i.e., “can”]). For example, éu put menxharh (= I can eat), not éu put à menxharh.
  • restarh (= to continue to [i.e., “still, keep, yet”]). For example, éu restéu menxharh (= I still eat [“I am still eating”, “I keep eating”]), not éu restéu à menxharh.
  • sâparh (= to know to, or to know how to). For example, éu säp menxharh (= I know how to eat), not éu säp à menxharh.
  • velarh (= to want to). For example, éu volt menxharh (= I want to eat), not éu volt à menxharh.

For these constructions that do not use linking prepositions, the word non is used to negate the infinitive. For example, éu volt non menxharh (= I want to not eat [avoid eating]). Compare this with éu non volt menxharh (= I do not want to eat) and with éu non volt non menxharh (= I do not want to avoid eating).

Remember that the infinitive form of a verb is one form to which an object pronoun can be attached in inversion. For example éu volt menxharh-en (= I want to eat it).

Gerunds

When a verb is used as a noun, this is called a “gerund”. In English, the present participle form of a verb (the form typically ending with “-ing”) is often seen used in such a way (as in “my favorite activity is reading”).

In Talossan, the infinitive form is the form that is used as a gerund. For example, v’actività favorì c’e lirarh (= my favorite activity is reading [i.e., my favorite thing to do is to read]).

Notice that here is one case where it is okay (but not required) to allow the noun to appear without an accompanying article. It is not improper to supply the article, though: v’actività favorì c’e el lirarh, although typically, you would only provide a gerund with an article if it appears at the head of a noun phrase, as in el lirarh c’e v’actività favorì (= reading [i.e., to read] is my favorite activity).

When you do wish to supply a gerund with an article, it may be most proper to choose the partitive article del (equivalent to “some”, or representable in English as the “null article” [that is, simply omitted]). That is, v’actività favorì c’e del lirarh.