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

Hi Sir;

The following sentences are grammatically correct ?. Please explain.

The tasks to complete are very difficult - noun + to + verb

The tasks to have are very difficult - noun + to + verb

The tasks for this week are very difficult. - noun + for

Thanks

Hi pumbi,

Only the third sentence is correct. I would change the other two as follows:

The tasks we have to complete are very difficult

I'm not sure what you are trying to say in the third sentence.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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.

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