English language is with the preposition "to", such as in "to walk", "to cry", "to eat", "to fear". William Shakespeare used a number of infinitives of this form in one of his most famous soliloquies, the "Soliloquy of Hamlet"
- "To be or not to be..."
- "To sleep, perchance to dream..."
A less common form of the infinitive is with the conditional auxiliary verbs "may" or "might". An example can again be found in the speech by Hamlet referenced above; "What dreams may come...". Another example is "we might win".
A third case of infinitive drops the preposition altogether. This is is possible when the infinitive form is used in conjunction with a specific set of verbs - these include "feel", "hear", "help", "let", "make", "see", and "watch". Examples include
- "I felt the earth move" ("move" is the infinitive)
- "We heard the bell toll" ("toll" is the infinitive)
- "She helped me understand ("understand" is the infinitive)
- "I let him win" ("win" is the infinitive)
The last two cases, where the infinitive appears without to, are called the bare infinitive.
German it is -en; the use of zu with infinitives is less frequent than to in English. In Scandinavian the n has dropped out and it is -e or -a.
Spanish, infinitives always end in -ar, -er or -ir. A similar phenomenon exists in French as well: infinitives of regular verbs have the suffixes -er -ir -re. Italian follows the same pattern, with its infinitives ending in -are, -ere, or -ire.
Formation of the infinitive in Romance languages was borrowed from their ancestor, Latin, in which a significant majority of verbs had an infinitive ending with -re (with a varying vowel, called the thematical preceding it).
Russian ends usually in -t' (ть) preceded by a thematic vowel; some verbs have a stem ending in a consonant and change the t to ch, such as *могть -> мочь "can". Some other Slavic languages have the infinitive typically ending in -ć.
Hebrew has two infinitives, the infinitive absolute and the infinitive construct. The infinitive construct is used much as an English infinitive, including being preceded by ל "to"; the infinitive absolute is used to add emphasis or certainty to the verb, as in מות ימות "he shall indeed die".