to + infinitive

 

We 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 sometimes say in order to or in order not to:

We set off early in order to avoid the traffic.
They spoke quietly in order not to wake the children

… or we can say so as to or so as not to:

We set off early so as to avoid the traffic.
They spoke quietly so as not to wake the children.

• after certain verbs (see verbs followed by infinitive), particularly verbs of thinking and feeling:

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

… and verbs of saying:

agree, promise, refuse

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

Some verbs are followed by a direct object and the infinitive(see verbs followed by infinitive):

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

She reminded me to turn the lights out.
He encouraged his friends to vote for him.

• after certain adjectives.

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

  • disappointed
  • glad
  • sad
  • happy
  • anxious
  • pleased
  • surprised
  • proud
  • 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

Other adjectives with the to-infinitive are:

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

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

We often use the to-infinitive with these adjectives after it to give opinions:

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

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

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

  • difficult
  • easy
  • possible
  • impossible
  • hard

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

We use the preposition of with other adjectives:

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

• As a postmodifier (see noun phrases) after abstract nouns like:

  • ability
  • desire
  • need
  • wish
  • attempt
  • failure
  • opportunity
  • chance
  • intention

I have no desire to be rich.
They gave him an opportunity to escape.
She was annoyed by her failure to answer the question correctly.

• We often use a to-infinitive as a postmodifier after an indefinite pronoun (See 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.


 

Exercise

Comments

Hello,

Could we use "already" with past simple and past perfect and "still" with past simple sentences?

ex: WE already met
We already had met
Still I didn't wear it.

Thank you for your help.

Hello naaka,

'Already' with the past simple is quite common in US English, but not in British English, where we would tend to use the present perfect.

It is fine to use 'already' with the past perfect, though it would come before the main verb:

We had already met.

'Still' with a past simple form is unusual. Note that 'still' can have several meanings and with the past simple it generally means 'in spite of this' rather than having a time reference.

He told me it looked nice. I still didn't wear it.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I still 

Hello,

"10 people to be selected." Is this a correct sentence? If it is correct where is the verb of this sentence?
But I think it should be "1O people are to be selected"

Thank you.

Hello naaka,

This is not a complete sentence but rather a sentence fragment. That does not mean it is incorrect - we often use sentence fragments in commmunication where the context makes the missing information clear and there is no need to repeat it.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
I got some idea. But I'm confused about those sentences. I mean is it okay I use that pattern in writing. Or is it only valid for spoken.

Thank you.

Hello naaka,

This really depends on the context. Generally, as a stand-alone sentence we would use the full form, not the fragment, but in less formal writing, and as part of a longer text it may be possible to use the shorter form. However, most of the time it would be better to use the fully grammatical form (with 'are').

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

Please could you give me a answer for my previous question.

Thank you.

Hello naaka,

I am afraid you will have to be a little more patient. Please remember that our main role is to maintain the site and update the materials. When we have time we try to answer questions from our users. We get many questions every day and are a small team.

You have posted three questions today. We will try to answer your questions, but only when and if time allows. Please do not post follow-up questions reminding us or asking us to do it more quickly.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

Actually I'm really sorry for bothering you. I asked this question again after waiting 7 days. Because I know you are too busy with this site and extra services you provided to us.Thank you for all these works you are doing for us. Actually I have no idea how many days you want to answer a question and that's why I waited 7 days to get an answer from British council team. Now I know 7 days are not enough to answer a question.

So I'm afraid to ask the answer for my question again. Because with all do respect you haven't given a answer for my question from your previous reply also.

Thank you.

Hello naaka,

I have answered your question above.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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