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

Hi
In the sentence, "I want to play cricket", is "cricket" an object of "to play"? Can to-infinitives have objects as transitive verbs have?

Similarly, can to-infinitives be used as objects of transitive verbs? For example, in the sentence, "We want to play", is "to play" an object of the verb "want"?

Hi Adya's,

Yes, the infinitive can take an object and can be an object, just as your examples show. Well done!

 

Hello vannak,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers for questions from elsewhere. It's not our role to do people's homework or tests for them!

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

Thank you for your lessons. I have a question:

Why we use gerund "getting" after "to" in the following sentence?
They are more welcoming to getting help from specialists.

Hello N-G,

The word 'to' can be used in different ways. Often it is part of an infinitive (e.g. 'to go', 'to get'), but other times, like in the sentence you ask about, it is a preposition. When we use a verb after a preposition, it goes in the gerund form, which is why 'getting' is correct here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks,

How can I recognize where "to" is a preposition?
For example, my sentence is similar to the below sentence.
It’s easy to play the piano.
In both of them there is an adjective before "to".

Hello N-G,

You have to look at the words that surround 'to'. If there is a base form of the verb (e.g. 'be', 'go', 'eat', 'sleep') after 'to', it's most likely an infinitive. If there is an -ing form (e.g. 'being', 'going', etc.) it's probably a preposition.

It's also useful to learn common structures that infinitives are used in. For example 'It's' + adjective + infinitive is a very common structure, and is what is used in your sentence about the piano.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello
1.we say "I'm on my way to work" but
which is the correct one form these? can we use a verb?
I'm on my way to go home" or "I'm on my way to home"

2. can we use "As" like this ? The characteristics of protons are as given as below

Hello raj jk,

1. 'to' is used with words to indicate direction, but isn't used before the word 'home' -- this is an exception to the general rule. So the correct form is 'I'm on my way home'. With other words, you should use 'to', e.g. 'on my way to school', 'on my way to your house', 'on my way to class', etc.

2. I have found examples of 'as given as below' in a quick internet search, but I'd recommend saying '... are as given below', i.e. I wouldn't repeat the 'as' before 'below'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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