Why do you need to put a before an infinitive? | SpanishDict Answers
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Vamos a orar

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Why do you need to put a before an infinitive?

Vamos a orar

Why do you need to put "to" before an infinitive?

We are going to pray

Why not "We are going pray"? Why is it so strange that we put a preposition where in English you do need a preposition too? In both languages, "to" was originally used to indicate your destination, as in "We are going to cinema", but then it began to be used metonymically to refer to a place by the activity you were going to perform there, as in "We are going (the usual place) to work", and eventually, it was extended by analogy to situations where you are not even going anywhere; in other words, it became grammaticalized as a construction for future intentions without the need to go anywhere. Thus, the preposition of destination remains there for obvious reasons.

In other words, you can't ask when to put a preposition before an infinitive, because it does not depend on the infinitive, but on the words that precede the infinitive:

Voy a pensar.

Quiero pensar.

Estoy cansado de pensar.

In the first sentence, "Voy" must be followed by a preposition "a" (or equivalent) to indicate direction or purpose, which is why "pensar" has that preposition in front of it. In the second sentence, "Querer" is used transitively, and it only requires "a" if the object is a specific person; since "pensar" is not a person, you can't use preposition. In the third one, the object of an adjective should use a preposition if you use nouns (infinitives are also nouns), so "de" must be used here... because of "cansado".

I wondered this, too. I remember reading that you put an "a" before intransitive verbs. It's just Spanish grammar. Hope I helped, amigo.

That's not a rule. Easy counter-examples:

Voy a hacer un pastel. [hacer is transitive]

Quiero nadar [nadar is intransitive]

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vamos a orar

ir+a+verb infinitive is a periphrasis (phrase of several words) used to refer to the near future time. It is very similar to using the future tense of the verb. Literally, it means "are going to...."

We are going to pray.

Iba a hacerlo.

I was going to do it. (near future in the past)

ir a+infinitive

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SonrisaDelSo said

I wondered this, too. I remember reading that you put an "a" before intransitive verbs. It's just Spanish grammar. Hope I helped, amigo.

The above cannot be quoted as a general rule and I don't know whether it is even correct.

The following verbs are a mixture of "intransitive and transitive" infinitives yet in the phrase below they would all take an "a" in front of them, probably caused by the use of the verb aprender.

Usted aprende a hablar, a entender, a leer y a escribir el español.

2 Vote

Many verbs in Spanish require a preposition when followed by either an infinitive or an object. In some cases, different prepositions result in different meanings, although not to the extent that this occurs in English.

list of verbs and prepositions

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I wondered this, too. I remember reading that you put an "a" before intransitive verbs. It's just Spanish grammar. Hope I helped, amigo.

  • An example of an intransitive verb is ir. This corresponds with your example, vamos, which is the nosotros form of ir. - SonrisaDelSo Jun 4, 2011 flag
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