This chapter presents an overview of issues of the to-infinitive discussed in the literature. It is usually assumed that the infinitive is a noun in Old English, and that, hence, the to-infinitive is a prepositional phrase; this entails that there has been a category change, which is usually argued to have taken place in Middle English. The author argues that the category change must predate Old English, as the to-infinitive is already completely verbal at that stage, which means that the syntactic innovations in Middle English cannot be due to a category change. Another traditional assumption that is discussed and rejected is the view that the to-infinitive gained ground at the expense of the infinitive without to, the so-called ‘bare infinitive’.
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