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One of my homework assignments asks the following questions, and I'm wondering why the verbs aren't conjugated.

  • ¿Vivir en el desierto o vivir en el centro de una ciudad grande?

  • ¿Tener una casa pequeña o tener una casa grande?

  • ¿Vivir solo/a o vivir con la familia?

  • ¿Poner alfombra o poner piso de madera (hardwood floor)?

  • ¿Comprar una casa con patio grande o comprar un condominio sin patio?

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Tarzan speaks without conjugating verbs, like "yo tener hambre"* it's not correct but sounds really funny :) –  Javi Jul 17 '12 at 13:02
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What is the context? It sounds like the phrases are completing the sentence in a larger question. –  jrdioko Jul 17 '12 at 16:02

2 Answers 2

Sometimes infinitive in Spanish works as a noun (substantive?), in all of your examples I think they're working as subject. When infinitive works as noun they accept Objects and modifiers but only rarely they asume changes in number or gender (El andar/los andares). In This article on wikilengua you'll found examples on the different cases when infinitives are used as nouns. Hope it hepls. As JoulSauron says in comments, those examples could be objects of an ellipsis similar to english "to be or not to be...".

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Not only as a subject, but also as an object or adverb. In those examples they might be objects of na ellipsis: [¿Qué debo hacer, vivir en el desierto...?]. In English happens the same with "to be or not to be, that is the question". –  JoulSauron Jul 17 '12 at 8:00
    
@JoulSauron you're right, I'm awful with syntaxis, I'm adding you're comment to the answer. Thank you! –  Laura Jul 17 '12 at 10:11
    
I wrote wrong my example, it's: ¿[Qué debo hacer], vivir en el desierto...? –  JoulSauron Jul 17 '12 at 13:25

In addition to what Laura says, I'll add that what happens in those sentences is that the verb is omitted. In all those sentences, the full sentence woud be something like:

  • ¿Es mejor vivir en el desierto o vivir en el centro de una ciudad grande?
  • ¿Qué prefieres, vivir solo o vivir con la familia?
  • ¿Qué harías si tuvieras dinero, comprar una casa con patio grande o comprar un condominio sin patio?
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