P-words are defined as prepositions and adverbs that no longer perform prepositional or adverbial functions. P-words are function words, which are defined as words that perform definite grammatical functions but that lack definite lexical meaning.
In grammar, an infinitive marker is a function words that distinguishes the base form from the infinitive form of an English verb. P-words are the only grammatical from that perform the grammatical function of infinitive marker in English, specifically the p-word to. Examples of p-words as infinitive markers include the following:
- to be
- to sleep
- to dream
- to awake
- to smile
- to wander hopelessly
- to read a book
- to not split an infinitive
- to look the information up
- to listen to the music
Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.