I have been learning Spanish for 2 years now, and have consistently seen that the infinitive form of the verb can only exist:
* after a preposition, or * after another verb.
For me this has been a fundamental rule of grammar which has served me very well. So I am shocked to find this sentence:
me da miedo dejar solo al niño (I'm frightened to leave the child alone) (*)
which breaks the rule because the infinitive follows a noun. I would expect to see a preposition between the noun and the verb, for example:
me da miedo (de) ir al dentista (I dread going to the dentist).
I note that similar structures have to follow the 'normal' rule. For example:
tenían miedo de hablar (they were afraid to speak) (*)
Is there something special about the verb dar in the 'gusta' form that allows the noun + infinitive; or is this a general rule that I have only now come across? So what is the correct grammar rule for the placement of infinitives?
(*) source: Merriam-Webster dictionary : http://www.spanishcentral.com/translate/miedo