1 Some verbs are followed by the to-infinitive:

I decided to go home as soon as possible.
We all wanted to have more English classes.

Common verbs followed by the to-infinitive are:

Verbs of thinking and feeling:

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

Verbs of saying:

  • agree
  • promise
  • refuse

Other common verbs are:

  • arrange
  • attempt
  • fail
  • help
  • manage
  • tend
  • try
  • want

2 Some verbs are followed by a noun and the to-infinitive:

She asked him to send her a text message.
He wanted all his friends to come to his party.

Common verbs with this pattern are:

Verbs of saying:

  • advise
  • ask
  • encourage
  • invite
  • order
  • persuade
  • remind
  • tell
  • warn *

*Note: The verb warn is normally used with not
The police warned everyone not to drive too fast.

Verbs of wanting or liking:

  • expect
  • intend
  • would
  • prefer
  • want
  • would like

Other verbs with this pattern are:

  • allow
  • enable
  • force
  • get
  • teach

3. Passive infinitive

Many of these verbs are sometimes followed by a passive infinitive
(to be + past participle):

I expected to be met when I arrived at the station.
They wanted to be told if anything happened.
I don’t like driving myself. I prefer to be driven.

 

Activity 1:

Match the 'to infinitive' clauses to the sentence beginnings.

 

Activity 2:

Match the 'to infinitive' clauses to the sentence beginnings.

 

Activity 3:

Match the 'to infinitive' clauses to the sentence beginnings.

Section: 

Comments

Hi,

Quoting your example above, "He wanted all his friends to come to his party", which illustrates the concept that some verbs are followed by a noun and the to-infinitive. My question are:

a) Concerning the sentence above, is it right to say that the infinitve phrase "to come to his party" is the direct object of the verb "wanted", and that "all his friends" is the actor or subject of the infinitive phrase?
b) Or is it a case where "all his friends to come to his party" is the direct obejct of the verb "wanted"?
c) In addition, my last questions concerns the matter of direct and indirect objects. Using the same sentence, am I right to say that the infinitve phrase "to come to his party" is the direct object of the verb "wanted", and that "all his friends" is the indirect object?

Thanks!

Regards,
Timothy

Hi Timothy555,

These are questions which go beyond the scope of our site. Our goal here is to help learners improve their English, not to provide analysis of this type, which is really a part of linguistics. There are other sites which delve into such questions, such as herehere, here and here, for example.

Be warned that you will find different interpretations as infinitives can have many functions: adverbial, adjectival and nominal, to name but three.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
I looked the word " postpone" up in the Cambridge Dictionary and I found that it is only used with " until", like in "The exams have been postponed until next month." My question is that would it be wrong if I use " to " with " postpone",i.e. Can I say " The exams have been postponed to next month"?

Thanks in advance,
Abdulllah

Hello Abdullah,

Thanks for looking that up in the dictionary. I don't think using 'to' instead of 'until' would cause too much confusion for most people, though really 'to' tends to be used to explain the purpose of a postponement and 'until' is used to indicate the new time/date. For example, 'The meeting was postponed until Monday to give the chairwoman time to arrive'. 'for' is also common, though used to talk about a length of time rather than the new time/date, e.g. 'The meeting was postponed for three days to allow the chairwoman ...'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

Would you please explain to me how and when to use 'to be' in a sentence? I often see it in sentences but not sure what does it really mean.

Hello Abidani,

It might help to think that 'to be' is an infinitive, and so, for example, as is explained on this page, it can be used after verbs like 'want' that can be followed by infinitives (e.g. 'I want to be a poet'). Infinitives are also commonly used to talk about purpose (e.g. 'I went to the market to buy some eggs').

There are so many different ways 'to be' and other infinitives can be used in a sentence that I don't think anyone could explain them all! If you find any specific examples you want ask us about, feel free to do so.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Kirk, for your reply.

I would be grateful if you make me clear about the use of specific 'to be' (not other infinitives or am/is.....) in sentences. For example:

''Waste water is sent to the water treatment plant to be processed.''

My query is
1) what does this sentence mean?
2) what if I don't use to be as such instead write '......................plant to process'?
3) Is it better to use such form in sentences to make them more formal or it has no impact?

Thanks again :)

Hello Abidani,

The infinitive in your example shows purpose - it tells us why the waste water was sent to the plant. You can replace 'to be processed' with 'in order to be processed' or 'so that it could be processed' without fundamentally changing the meaning. The key here is that it is an infinitive; 'be' is included because it is a passive form (to process = an infinitive; to be processed = a passive infinitive).

You can read more about this and other uses of the infinitive on this page.

You cannot use the formulation you have in your second question. You could say 'to the plant for processing', using a preposition and a gerund.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you peter for the nice clarification and thanks to the @LearnEnglish team as well.

Best regards

Hi Teacher,
How to Improve English Grammar? Tell me some easy tips. Recently I prepare from this site. can you have something more to add in this Guide.

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