Level: beginner

Verbs with to-infinitives

We use the to-infinitive after certain verbs (verbs followed by to-infinitive), particularly verbs of thinking and feeling:

choose
decide
expect
forget
hate
hope
intend
learn
like
love
mean
plan
prefer
remember
want
would like/love

They decided to start a business together.
Remember to turn the lights off.

and verbs of saying:

agree promise refuse threaten

We agreed to meet at the cinema.
Promise to call me every day.

Some verbs are followed by a direct object and then the to-infinitive:

advise
ask
encourage
expect
intend
invite
order
persuade
remind
tell
want
warn
would like/love
would prefer


 

He encouraged his friends to vote for him.
Remind me to give Julia a call.

Verbs with to-infinitive 1

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Verbs with to-infinitive 2

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Infinitive of purpose

We also use the to-infinitive to express purpose (to answer why?):

He bought some flowers to give to his wife.
He locked the door to keep everyone out.

We can also express purpose with in order to and in order not to:

We started our journey early in order to avoid the traffic.
They spoke quietly in order not to wake the children.

or so as to and so as not to:

We started our journey early so as to avoid the traffic.
They spoke quietly so as not to wake the children.

Infinitive of purpose 1

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Infinitive of purpose 2

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Level: intermediate

Adjectives with to-infinitives

We use the to-infinitive after certain adjectives:

able
unable
anxious
due
eager
keen
likely
unlikely
ready
prepared
willing
unwilling

Unfortunately, I was unable to work for over a week.
I'm really tired. I'm ready to go to bed.

Sometimes the to-infinitive gives a reason for the adjective:

amazed
delighted
disappointed
glad
happy
pleased
proud
relieved
sad
sorry
surprised
unhappy

We were happy to come to the end of our journey.
(= We were happy because we had come to the end of our journey.)
John was surprised to see me.
(= He was surprised because he saw me.)

We often use it + be followed by an adjective to give opinions:

clever
difficult
easy
foolish
hard
kind
nice
possible
impossible
right
wrong
silly

It's easy to play the piano, but it's very difficult to play well.
He spoke so quickly that it was impossible to understand him.

We use the to-infinitive with these adjectives to give opinions about people:

clever
foolish
kind
nice
right
wrong
silly
 

She was right to complain about that hotel.
You were clever to find the answer so quickly.

We use the preposition for to show who these adjectives refer to:

difficult easy hard possible impossible

It was difficult for us to hear what she was saying.
It is easy for you to criticise other people.

With the other adjectives, we use the preposition of:

It's kind of you to help.
It would be silly of him to spend all his money.

Adjectives with to-infinitive 1

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Adjectives with to-infinitive 2

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Level: advanced

Nouns with to-infinitives

We use the to-infinitive as a postmodifier (see noun phrases) after abstract nouns like:

ability
attempt
chance
desire
failure
need
opportunity
refusal
wish

They gave him an opportunity to escape.
He was annoyed by her refusal to answer.
I have no desire to be rich.
There is no need to shout.

We often use the to-infinitive as a postmodifier after indefinite pronouns:

When I am travelling I always take something to read.
I was all alone. I had no one to talk to.
There is hardly anything to do in most of these small towns.

Nouns with to-infinitive 1

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Nouns with to-infinitive 2

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Comments

Hi,sir.

Could you tell me whether i can use these sentences and what the difference is
1. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo
2. Amelia Earhart became the first woman flying solo.

Thank you,

Hello Risa warysha

The first one is correct and the second one is not -- the structure is 'be' or 'become' + 'the first (noun phrase optional here) to do something'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,

Thanks so much for your lessons, could you please help me to clarify the function of " to Infi" as well.
For example:
1. He bought some flowers to give to his wife. =>" to give to his wife " has the function as adv of V- bought or complement of flowers?
2. They gave him an opportunity to escape.=> " to escape" has the function as complement of opportunity, is that right?

Hello Amy18295,

In the first sentence 'to give to his wife' is an infinitive of purpose. It explains why the man bought the flowers and has the same meaning as 'in order to'. It has an adverbial function in the sentence.

In your second sentence, the infinitive acts as a post-modifier to the noun 'opportunity'. As it completes the meaning of 'opportunity', creating one concept, it is a complement.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Many thanks for your great help!!
Besides, could you please help me explain below sentence:
"Two decades later, James’ vision is well on its way to being realised."
Why after " to" , it is " being realised" but " be realised " ??

Hello Amy18295

'to' can be part of an infinitive (e.g. 'to realise' or 'to be realised'), but in 'on the way to', 'to' is a preposition. When there is a verb after a preposition, it is always a gerund ('-ing' form), which is why this sentence has '... its way to being realised'.

There are other similar cases of this, for example 'She got used to living in Taipei' or 'I look forward to seeing you'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

Please help me understand the following grammar point.

I refer to an example given in "As or Like" lesson. ( posting the question here since it appears comments are disabled in that lesson)

The example was, "I tried using salt as you suggested but the stain still didn’t come out".

My question is, shouldn't it be " I tried to use..." as we are taking about an action that failed. Doesn't "try + ing" suggest that we did try something and it worked out?

Thank you

Donald.

Hello Donald
Both forms are possible here, depending on what you mean. If you want to speak more about your attempt to remove the stain, then using a to-infinitive is the correct form to use.
But it's also possible to see the salt as an experiment, that is, as something that might or might now work. In this case, the gerund (-ing form) is the correct one to use.
You can see more examples of both forms on the Cambridge Dictionary's page for 'try' (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/try).
All the best
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Great!. Thank you Kirk.

thank you very much sir. It is very kind of you to reply me promptly.
But sir these structures are given in Raymond Murphy and Martin hewings as well.
e.g She admitted having stolen the money. ( page 104 second edition intermediate English grammar)

2.He remembered having arrived at the party. (page 78 Advance English grammar by Martin hewings).

and really thanks again.

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