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.




Hi Team,

I have written a sentence down,please look into that and,please help me.

'I made him write a story'.

Here can we comprehend it as two different parts, 'I made him' as one and 'write a story on' as second part.

If that is a case,can we comprehend second as one which orders some one to write a story.

i know it sounds infinitive,but while using orally,is it not like ordering?

Best Regards,

Hi Nandishchandra,

The structure here is make + someone + verb. The second part of the sentence is not necessarily an order: it could be a threat, for example, or a convincing argument.

'Ordering' is a function, while 'infinitive' is a verb form. It is quite possible for an infinitive to be used as part of a phrase to give an order, but it can be used for other meanings too. Similarly, while we can use an infinitive for this, we can also use other forms. There is no one-to-one correlation between form and function.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Thanks for reply,

Yes i agree with you.Verb form infinitive is used here,and it can be used for different functions,one such is order.Fine!!.

I find it very difficult to use 'to + infinitive' form of verb.

Why we are leaving out 'to' in the sentence below?

'i made him write a story' ,and

why not 'i made him to write a story.'


Best Regards,

Hello Nandish,

I'm afraid that there is no rule about this; it is simple necessary to learn which verbs are followed by to + infinitive and which are followed by the bare infinitive.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello there,

We use 'come, got, and go' with 'to' like I came to the house, I went to the school. Can we use I came to there? Also I went to there. I got to there. Or we have to say it without 'to'. For an example 'I came there,I got there.

Please explain this for me.

Thank you.

Hello again naaka,

'to' is not used before 'here', 'there' or 'home', so you'd just say, for example, 'I got there'. By the way, 'I came there' sounds strange, because 'come' includes the idea of 'here', i.e. where I am right now, so saying 'there' with 'come' doesn't sound right.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


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,


The LearnEnglish Team

I still 


"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,


The LearnEnglish Team