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.





Hi The LearnEnglish Team
is the correct when I say that SO AS TO and IN ORDER TO have the meaning to express purpose?

Hi madhil,

Yes, I would agree. However, note that the purpose here refers to a future plan rather than an immediate action.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

"It was the strangest of atmospheres" in this sentence "strange" became "strangest" It is hard to understand this for me. I can understand "strange of atmospheres" or "The strangest atmosphere"

Hello raj jk,

'the strangest of atmospheres' is another somewhat more literary way of saying 'a very strange atmosphere' or 'the strangest atmosphere'. 

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

though plural word "atmospheres" is used it refers to singular word "atmosphere" as you say! Am I correct ?

Sir I'd like to find more about these literary ways in use writing. please could you give me a fixed name for those. for search more about it. ( like "idioms, phrasal verbs etc) thank you.
and I Have another question.. this is from a book which published from Cambridge.
"idioms are fixed expressions WHOSE meaning is not immediately obvious from looking at the individual words in the idioms."
so, my question about "Whose". Is It not unusual? Isn't whose used for only when talking about people ?

Hello raj jk,

I'm not sure I can describe literary forms to you in a comment reply! The best way to get a feel for literary style in English is to read literature, so a good place to start would be our Stories and Poems and Shakespeare sections.


As far as the second question goes, we use 'whose' for both people and things, so the example you give is not unusual or atypical.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team 

Hello raj jk,

That's a good point and yes, you're right. It's because 'the strangest of atmospheres' really refers to one atmosphere (not many).

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Oh I cannot leave out without saying "thank you"

Hello everybody!
My question is about "be sent" here, what is the rule that we use infinitive without to here? "It is essential that these application forms be sent back as early as possible."
could you give any other examples?
Thank you!