rebus 30th anniversary eleanor oliphant second sister debuts of the month Harry Potter House Eds
Search our site
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett Read the opening extract of the brand new Jenn Bennett book before its publication on 27/07/2017

The Rise of the To-Infinitive by Bettelou Los

The Rise of the To-Infinitive

RRP £41.99


The Rise of the To-Infinitive by 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 nonfinite 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. Dr Los shows that, even as early as Old English, the to-infinitive was established in most of the environments in which it is found today. She argues that its spread was largely due to competition with subjunctive that-clauses, which it gradually replaced. Later chapters consider Middle English developments. The author provides a measured evaluation of the evidence that to undergoes a period of degrammaticalization. She concludes that the extent to which to gains syntactic freedom in Middle English is due to the fact that speakers began to equate it with the modal verbs and therefore to treat it syntactically as a modal verb. The exposition is clear and does not assume an up-to-date knowledge of generative theory. The book will appeal to the wide spectrum of scholars interested in the transformation from Old to Middle English, as well as those studying the processes and causes of syntactic change more generally.


...a great achievement, highlighting the systematic distribution of OE to-infinitives described in terms of argument structure, as well as providing solid arguments that to-infinitives were in competition with subjunctive that-clauses, with the former replacing the latter. Moreover this book is written in a manner accessible to both philologists and theoretical linguists, and hence provides a basis for everyone interested in the development of English infinitives. Journal of German Linuistics The great merit of this book is certainly the impressive empirical work providing us with a systematic description of infinitival complementation in OE...[a] significant our understanding of infinitival syntax in the history of English. Ulrike Demske, Diachronica 24:1

About the Author

Bettelou Los is a Lecturer in Linguistics at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. She graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 1986 and has since held teaching and research positions at the University of Amsterdam, the Vrije Universiteit, the University of Nijmegen and other colleges of higher education. She participates in the research program The Diachrony of Complex Predicates in West Germanic, and has published several papers on diachronic syntax. She contributes with Wim van der Wurff to the morphology and syntax section of The Year's Work in English Studies and is co-editing with Ans van Kemenade is co-editing The Blackwell Handbook of the History of English.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

15th February 2007


Bettelou Los

More books by Bettelou Los
Author 'Like for Like'


Oxford University Press


354 pages


Historical & comparative linguistics
Grammar, syntax & morphology



Lovereading has given me the opportunity to delve into new and exciting worlds of authors who I would never have tried before.

Glynis Elliott

Ever purchased a book, read a few pages & thought I'm not going to enjoy this? Honest book reviews mean you'll never have that problem again

Jill Peters

Lovereading is a world of books. It has everything you need from new to old and much loved classic books. It even give you recommendations!

Kate Thurston

With literary excellence, humour and drama, Lovereading's got value and is a real stress-calmer!

Siobhan McDowell

Thanks to Lovereading I have discovered new writers and read books I would never had looked twice at - and enjoyed them.

Angela Rhodes

A well laid out site, I love the fact that is separates paranormal fiction from fantasy and horror, which other sites don't.

Jen Rainbow

The best new books on the market, reviewed honestly, to give your readers the best choices.

Julie Cook

I love that Lovereading handpicks very special debut reads.

Magda North