When can I use an infinitive as a verb without a preposition before it?

When can I use an infinitive as a verb without a preposition before it?


How would I translate the following:

"Spanish is easy to learn." = Español es facíl (de) aprender.

"It is easy to learn Spanish." = Es facíl (de) aprender español.

I am not sure if I need to include a preposition before the infinitive, in order to follow a rule, if I do then which; a, en, de? If not always, then what is the rule for just an infinitive as a verb without a preposition before it? i.e. the example given above.

I hope this is not too confusing.

Thank you.

updated JUL 6, 2010
posted by aldj
Great question! Welcome to the SpanishDict forum. - --Mariana--, JUN 28, 2010

2 Answers


Hola aldi and Welcome to SpanishDict!

• Español es fácil de aprender.

• Es fácil aprender español.

• Es fácil aprenderlo

The RAE (Diccionario panhispánico de dudas) gives a good explanation of when and why to use the preposition "de" to introduce an infinitive after certain adjectives.

Ciertos adjetivos que denotan facilidad, dificultad, probabilidad, merecimiento, relevancia o frecuencia, como fácil, difícil, sencillo, complicado, cómodo, rápido, costoso, imposible, digno, importante, raro, etc., o que denotan sensaciones o efectos producidos por una acción, como aburrido, divertido, penoso, gratificante, etc., admiten como complemento un infinitivo transitivo introducido por la preposición de: «Me siento atrapado en una alternativa imposible de resolver» (PRossi Solitario [Ur. 1988]); [...]

What this says is that certain adjectives which are used to denote easiness, difficulty, probability etc (such as "fácil, difícil, sencillo etc") or those that denote feelings or effects produced by an action (see examples above) allow the infinitive of a transitive verb to be used as a complement when it is introduced by the preposition "de."

En estas construcciones, el infinitivo transitivo tiene sentido pasivo (problema fácil de resolver = ‘problema que puede ser resuelto fácilmente’) y el sustantivo al que se refiere el adjetivo viene a ser el sujeto paciente tácito de dicho infinitivo. Es incorrecto en estos casos añadir al infinitivo transitivo el pronombre átono de complemento directo, cuyo antecente es el sustantivo al que se refiere el adjetivo: shut eye Planteó cuestiones difíciles de resolverlas (en lugar de grin Planteó cuestiones difíciles de resolver).

In these constructions the infinitive takes on a passive sense (fácil de resolver - a problem that is able to be solved easily)

This can be applied to your own sentence to see that

Español es fácil de aprender - Spanish is (a language that is) able to be learned easily or Spanish can be learned easily

Notice also, that it is incorrect to add the direct object pronoun to the transitive verb (i.e. "aprenderlo") whose antecedent is the noun to which the adjective refers.

For example, saying:

"Es fácil de aprenderlo"

would be like saying

"Spanish can be learned it easily"

updated JUL 6, 2010
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
Good explanation. Spanish can be learned easily ( no 'it' required ) - FELIZ77, JUN 28, 2010
I have the RAE, now I need to use it more! lol - Delores--Lindsey, JUN 28, 2010
@Feliz: Yes, which is exactly why that sentence would be incorrect - Izanoni1, JUN 28, 2010
I highlighted it in red to make the error more obvious :) - Izanoni1, JUN 28, 2010

Also, 'Aprender español es fácil' smile

updated JUN 28, 2010
posted by Kiwi-Girl
I was thinking about this one also. - Delores--Lindsey, JUN 28, 2010
But in that case, the infinitive is being used as a noun. - samdie, JUN 28, 2010
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