Level: beginner

Verbs with to-infinitives

We use the to-infinitive after certain verbs (verbs followed by to-infinitive), particularly verbs of thinking and feeling:

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

They decided to start a business together.
Remember to turn the lights off.

and verbs of saying:

agree promise refuse threaten

We agreed to meet at the cinema.
Promise to call me every day.

Some verbs are followed by a direct object and then the to-infinitive:

advise
ask
encourage
expect
intend
invite
order
persuade
remind
tell
want
warn
would like/love
would prefer


 

He encouraged his friends to vote for him.
Remind me to give Julia a call.

Verbs with to-infinitive 1

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Verbs with to-infinitive 2

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Infinitive of purpose

We also 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 can also express purpose with in order to and in order not to:

We started our journey early in order to avoid the traffic.
They spoke quietly in order not to wake the children.

or so as to and so as not to:

We started our journey early so as to avoid the traffic.
They spoke quietly so as not to wake the children.

Infinitive of purpose 1

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Infinitive of purpose 2

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Level: intermediate

Adjectives with to-infinitives

We use the to-infinitive after certain adjectives:

able
unable
anxious
due
eager
keen
likely
unlikely
ready
prepared
willing
unwilling

Unfortunately, I was unable to work for over a week.
I'm really tired. I'm ready to go to bed.

Sometimes the to-infinitive gives a reason for the adjective:

amazed
delighted
disappointed
glad
happy
pleased
proud
relieved
sad
sorry
surprised
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.)

We often use it + be followed by an adjective to give opinions:

clever
difficult
easy
foolish
hard
kind
nice
possible
impossible
right
wrong
silly

It's easy to play the piano, but it's very difficult to play well.
He spoke so quickly that it was impossible to understand him.

We use the to-infinitive with these adjectives to give opinions about people:

clever
foolish
kind
nice
right
wrong
silly
 

She was right to complain about that hotel.
You were clever to find the answer so quickly.

We use the preposition for to show who these adjectives refer to:

difficult easy hard possible impossible

It was difficult for us to hear what she was saying.
It is easy for you to criticise other people.

With the other adjectives, we use the preposition of:

It's kind of you to help.
It would be silly of him to spend all his money.

Adjectives with to-infinitive 1

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Adjectives with to-infinitive 2

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Level: advanced

Nouns with to-infinitives

We use the to-infinitive as a postmodifier (see noun phrases) after abstract nouns like:

ability
attempt
chance
desire
failure
need
opportunity
refusal
wish

They gave him an opportunity to escape.
He was annoyed by her refusal to answer.
I have no desire to be rich.
There is no need to shout.

We often use the to-infinitive as a postmodifier after 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.

Nouns with to-infinitive 1

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Nouns with to-infinitive 2

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Comments

Kirk hello again!

Many thanks for your help. I actually wonder if "to infinitive+noun" means purpose or it merely completes the verb depending on the context.

For example ."His refusal to listen to my advice resulted in a drunk-driving conviction"(it merely completes the verb)

"One way to improve your English is to read novels."(purpose)

What do you think?

Thank you!

Hello Goktung123,

Not all [to verb + noun] structures are infinitives of purpose. The infinitive has many uses, including as the complement of another verb, as you say.

Infinitives can even be the subject of a sentence:

To win a race is a difficult thing.

To write a poem has always been an ambition of mine.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,
In your example, To+infinitive clause is the subject. Is this natural to use as an adverb, e.g: To easy the study, students often use dictionaries?
It sounds better to me if: Students often use dictionaries to easy their study.
Many thanks.

Hello thuc2009

I'm sorry, I haven't been able to find the sentence that you mention Peter uses as an example. I'm afraid the sentence you ask about is not grammatical -- 'easy' is not a verb. Do you mean something like 'To aid their studies, students often use dictionaries'? In this case, the infinitive of purpose 'to aid their studies' has been moved from the end of the sentence to the beginning. This is not common, but there is nothing wrong with doing this.

Or have I misunderstood? Could you please copy Peter's example sentence in your next comment if I haven't answered your question here?

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk!

Many thanks for your help.
Do you mean "to" here mean "because"?
Thanks!

Hello Goktung,

As Kirk said, the 'to' of an infinitive of purpose means something like 'in order to'. In other words, it tells us about the anticipated result or intention, not necessarily the cause. It is closer to 'so' than 'because'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Team!

I have a question.

Is "to ensure" adjective in the sentence below?

I thought it define "machining".

"Weld metal maybe deposited on the inside or outside of the piping component to provide sufficient material for machining to ensure satisfactory fitting of rings."

Thank you!

Hello Goktug123

'to ensure' is an infinitive that describes the purpose of the material deposited on the outside of the piping component. This material will be machined, and this machining will ensure that the rings fit (as far as I can tell).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, sir, could you please tell me if this sentence has the corect structyre and tenses? Thank you.

“Cayden’s hands somehow manage to have one land on the table with a smack, the other swiped across the surface and ending up behind the edge.”

Hello anng1909

If this sentence is describing something that already happened, then 'manage' should be in the past simple and I'd probably also put 'ending up' into the past simple as well ('ended up'). Some kind of conjunction after the comma would also improve the sentence in my opinion.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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