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
I have a doubt that how can we use ' to infinitive ' with after prepostion.

Hello Patnala akshay,

It is possible to use the infinitive after certain prepositions, but the preposition must have an object (noun or pronoun) before the infinitive. For example:

The woman asked for the dress to be changed. [passive infinitive]

Paul is waiting for Sue to arrive.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I wonder if you can help - I'm trying to find the grammar basis to a sentence such as: She was the first woman to be elected to parliament, where we use 'to be elected' in the place of: She was the first woman 'who was elected' to parliament. Thank you for your insights!

Hello MandyM,

The structure here is 'be the first person to do something' and it is a quite common stylistic choice in biographical or historical texts. The meaning is the same as the simpler 'be the first person who did something'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir,

Do your page have a topic about additional words such as: another, other, additional, extra, more, futher...If not, .I would be more thankful if you could take your time to clarify all these mentioned words. Many thanks for your great assistance !!

Hello Amy18295,

We're happy to answer specific questions in the comments sections of our pages but we can't provide long explanations of multiple structures, I'm afraid!

Some of the words you mention are quantifiers, so a good place to start would be our section on those:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/quantifiers

You can also use the search function at the top of the page to find pages which reference the words you are interested in.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Team!

I have a question.

What is the meaning and grammatical function of "to" in this sentence?

"The integration of structural steel elements to inspire, bring people together, and shade the building demonstrates that engineering can be beautiful as well as functional and sustainable.

Thank you!

Hello Goktug123

'to inspire' is an infinitive of purpose here. The 'to' also goes with 'bring' and 'shade'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Kirk hello again!

Many thanks for your help. I actually wonder if "to infinitive+noun" means purpose or it merely completes the verb depending on the context.

For example ."His refusal to listen to my advice resulted in a drunk-driving conviction"(it merely completes the verb)

"One way to improve your English is to read novels."(purpose)

What do you think?

Thank you!

Hello Goktung123,

Not all [to verb + noun] structures are infinitives of purpose. The infinitive has many uses, including as the complement of another verb, as you say.

Infinitives can even be the subject of a sentence:

To win a race is a difficult thing.

To write a poem has always been an ambition of mine.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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