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

Hello MCWSL,

In the sentences with Sarah, you could add a time expression to both sentences, though often such a time expression might not be necessary, as context would provide it. As for the two sentences about French, the second one is quite awkward, so I'd not recommend using it - the first is much more common.

As for the sentences about John, only the first one is correct. Both of the sentences about the window are correct, though the first is a bit awkward - the second is much more likely to be used. I also wonder if the word if the word 'open' is missing from the end of these two sentences, though they are also correct as they are.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,

Could you answer my question please?

Thank you.

Hello Kirk,

''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 just 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''

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?

Thanks again.

I felt averse to doing so on behalf of someone else. Is this sentence grammaticaly correct And yet we use to-infinitive As has already been mention above. Please explain in details.

Hello DilanS,

Yes, that sentence is grammatically correct. 'to' is a preposition (not part of an infinitive) – that is why the -ing form is used after it.

I think I've answered your question, but if not, please clarify and we'll do our best to help you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi The LearnEnglish Team
is the correct when I say that SO AS TO and IN ORDER TO have the meaning to express purpose?

Hi madhil,

Yes, I would agree. However, note that the purpose here refers to a future plan rather than an immediate action.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

"It was the strangest of atmospheres" in this sentence "strange" became "strangest" It is hard to understand this for me. I can understand "strange of atmospheres" or "The strangest atmosphere"

Hello raj jk,

'the strangest of atmospheres' is another somewhat more literary way of saying 'a very strange atmosphere' or 'the strangest atmosphere'. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

though plural word "atmospheres" is used it refers to singular word "atmosphere" as you say! Am I correct ?

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