4.6 - Infinitely useful infinitives

As you saw on page 4.5, the infinitive form of the verb is important not just because it's listed in the dictionary. It's used widely, both on its own and with other verbs, to express a wide range of concepts. And a reminder – it doesn't change its form (it's the "to" form of the verb).

Listed below are some of the ways the infinitive is used in phrases and sentences (most examples have been taken from various internet sites):

Commands and regulations

Встати! Суд іде. Please rise for the court.
Не курити. No smoking.


Прошу повторити. Please repeat (this).
Прошу не шуміти! Please don't make a noise!
Прохання не запізнюватися. Please don't be late.


Краще цього не писати. It would be better not to write this.
Як писати, а як не писати. How you should and shouldn't write.

Rhetorical questions

Як не погодитися з ...!? How can one (you) not agree with ...
Що мені робити? What am I to do?
У що нам вірити? What are we to believe in?

Permission or possibility

Тут можна курити. You can smoke here.
Що можна купити за одну гривню? What can one buy for one hryvnia?
Свободу не спинити. You can't halt freedom.


Вам треба це знати. You need to know this.
Не треба боятися. You don't have to be afraid.


Треба їсти, щоб жити, а не жити, щоб їсти. You should eat (in order) to live, and not live (in order) to eat.


Він хоче бути політиком. He wants to be a politician.

Using verbs as nouns (the "-ing" form, or gerund, in English)

Вивчати українську мову – (це) задоволення. Learning Ukrainian is a pleasure.
Тут жити приємно. It's nice living here.

Choice or conditionality

Якщо робити, то робити, як треба. If (you) do this, (you) should do it properly.
Читати чи не читати інтернет-видання?... а якщо читати, то котрі? To read or not to read publications on the internet?... and if you are to read them, then which ones?

Preference or liking

Мені подобається гуляти з друзями. I like going out with my friends.

Future imperfective

Я буду критикувати уряд! I will criticise the government.
Ми будемо грати у футбол. We will play football.

To practise using infinitives do Exercise 4.6A. Then do Exercise 4.6B, which follows on from 4.6A.

Part of the collection of resources at UkrainianLanguage.uk
© 2007 Marta Jenkala