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

Section: 

Comments

hello team
" I go home" we cannot use "to" in it becoz home is adverb
like that I go to school or I go to office is Incorrect isn't it?

when we use continuous tense

I'm going to home

I'm going to school

I'm going to office
should be correct becoz here The verb is "be" predicate is already given,

so we use " to" here to give direction but

I'm confusing about "I'm going to home" native do speakers use it?
like I go home;
Are" I go school, I go office" correct?

Hello raj jk,

We do not use 'to' before 'home' because 'home' is, as you say, an adverb. The form of the verb (simple or continuous) does not change this in any way. We say 'I'm going home' not 'I'm going to home'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thank you so much peter
but what's the reason for "home" is an adverb while school and office are just places..?
that's the point I cannot make clear there

Hello raj jk,

There is no reason here in the sense that there is no rule at work which determines which words can fulfil which role. 'Home' is a word which can function as an adverb or a noun and in this particular example it is an adverb.

It is possible to make 'home' a noun and then use 'to'. However, we then need to add a possessive adjective or an article:

I'm going home. (adverb)

I'm going to my home. (noun)

I'm going to the home of my friend. (noun)

 

Note that if we use 'school' or 'office' as a noun representing a building then we also need an article or a possessive adjective:

I'm going to the office.

I'm going to my school.

 

The phrase 'I'm going to office' is not correct. It is possible to say 'I'm going to school' but this means you are on your way to learn in school (i.e. you are a pupil) rather than referring to the building itself.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

that's very good explanation thank you peter

Hello,
''The teacher is wanting to be teaching sth, right now''
I've read that ''to be -ing'' is used when you want to express an action you'd like to be in the middle, but what if the aspect already expresses the wanted meaning(I know the verb ''to want'' doesn't take an -ing form, but let's assume it does)

I've also read that an -ing form could refer to two actions happening at the same time or one after another. For example:
''Walking down the street, she saw him''
''Seeing a dog on the second floor, he ran downstairs and answered the phone''
'Being in Alaska, John thought to take some presents''
Should I make somehow clear that thinking in my sentence: ''Being...'' is after being in Alaska but not at that time. If it's so, how could I do it?
Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

As in this sentence, having double continuous aspect is a bit awkward. That's not to say it's not possible, but it's redundant. I doubt you'd see a sentence like that first one in writing and it'd be unusual to hear it as well.

The use of the -ing form (as a present participle) that you ask about is explained on our participle clauses page. If you say 'Being in Alaska, John ...' it means he is in Alaska. To talk about the past, you could say 'Having been in Alaska ...', or, more often people would just say 'When he was in Alaska ...' Participle clauses aren't usually used outside of quite formal situations.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I have some questions to ask.

''Sarah admitted having taken the thing'' and ''Sarah admitted that she had taken the thing''

''He wanted to study French last year'' and ''He would like to have studied French''

I think each sentence has the same meaning as the following one(correct me if I'm wrong). If they do have the same meanings, then I couldn't add a time expression because the following sentences have their own meanings already.
For example
''Sarah admitted having taken the thing yesterday'' but I couldn't add anything to its following because we don't use any time expressions there. Could you clarify that to me?

''Being in Alaska, John thought to take some presents'' and ''Being in Alaska, John thought to be taking some presents''

''Who was responsible for having left the window'' and ''Who is responsible for leaving the window''

What is the difference between the sentence and its following?

Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

In the sentences with Sarah, you could add a time expression to both sentences, though often such a time expression might not be necessary, as context would provide it. As for the two sentences about French, the second one is quite awkward, so I'd not recommend using it - the first is much more common.

As for the sentences about John, only the first one is correct. Both of the sentences about the window are correct, though the first is a bit awkward - the second is much more likely to be used. I also wonder if the word if the word 'open' is missing from the end of these two sentences, though they are also correct as they are.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,

Could you answer my question please?

Thank you.

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