He dislikes having to punish his servants.

Here  ’having to punish his servants’ is a gerund phrase functioning as object of the verb. But  I am unable to understand the usage of infinitive ‘to punish’ after ‘having’ . Please help me in understanding this. 

 

Original Post

Hello, Symphony,

"have to" is a modal used to express obligation or necessity. It is always followed by "to"-infinitive. If you want to parse "having to punish his servants," "having to punish" is a gerundial verb phrase (formed by a modal of obligation and a main verb) followed by the object "his servants."

 

symphony posted:

He dislikes having to punish his servants.

Hello, Symphony, and Happy New Year!

I agree with everything that Gustavo has said above. I just thought that, in case you had any trouble understanding the main point, it might help you to look at the following related sentence, which is not intended as a perfect paraphrase:

  • He wishes he didn't have to punish his servants.
symphony posted:

As a modal verb can ‘have to’  have an ‘ing’ form?

Hello again, Symphony,

Have to is what is called a "periphrastic modal"; it is not a full-blooded modal like will, would, shall, should, may, might, can, and could. Indeed, have to can be used in combination with those other modals:

  • He will have to work very hard.
  • She shouldn't have to go.
  • They may have to work overtime.

Have to can certainly be used in its ing form having to. Having to is commonly used both as a gerund and as a present participle, depending on the syntactic context. Below is an example of each:

  • participle: He has been having to help her out a lot lately.
  • gerund: He hates having to wake up so early.
symphony posted:

 The verb after ‘have to’ is used in base form only, right?

No. As you can see, having to is also used, both as a present participle and as a gerund. Have to also has the past-tense and past-participle form had to (He had to / has had to help out a lot) and the third-person singular present formhas to.

Thank you very much David for your wonderful explanation. 

David, Moderator posted
symphony posted:

 The verb after ‘have to’ is used in base form only, right?

No. As you can see, having to is also used, both as a present participle and as a gerund. Have to also has the past-tense and past-participle form had to (He had to / has had to help out a lot) and the third-person singular present formhas to.

I mean the verb used after have to should be in the base form.

For eg: have to + verb (base form)

             have to + work

symphony posted:

I mean the verb used after have to should be in the base form.

For eg: have to + verb (base form)

             have to + work

Yes, Symphony. The verb following "have to" (in whatever form "have" appears in "have to") is always in its base form. The "to" in periphrastic "have to" is the stem of the infinitive that follows.

In other words, the "to" in "have to" is the same "to" that we find in "to punish," "to swim," "to run," "to operate," "to dance," "to think," "to Google," and so on, for every single (non-auxiliary) verb in the English language.

Historically, the periphrastic modal "have to" developed out the related construction "have NP to VP." That is, from sentences like "I have a horse to sell" the English language gradually acquired sentences like "I have to sell a horse."

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