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 Tharanga,

I'm sorry about that! I focused on explaining the use of the infinitive and neglected to explain the omission of the verb. It's very common for newspaper headlines to leave out words that can be understood from context. This is simply because there is little space in headlines.

Otherwise, you should not omit the verb, so in answer to your second question, I'd say no. If you were going to write a headline for an article that explains how you are going to build a house, the headline should not include the pronoun 'I'. You could say 'Tharanga' or 'Pud' (I'm sorry, I don't know which name would be more appropriate) instead, or convert it to a passive infinitive: 'House to be built'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot you! I understood all about that
my name is Tharanga. pud is an abbreviating.

well.. I have another question. here is a sentence bellow
"A plural or uncountable noun on its own can also have a general meaning."
I know that what does mean "It's own" but I can't understand what does mean "on it's own"
could you help me teacher

Hello Tharanga,

You're welcome! 'on its own' (notice the correct spelling is 'its', not 'it's') just means 'alone'. If you look up 'on your own' in the dictionary (see the Search box on the right side of this page), you can see a definition and examples.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you sir
I need understand(or "I need to understand" what's the correct one?) what's the different "between" seldom and "rarely"
I've heard "rarely" is antonyms to "often" but I have trouble with seldom
Plz help me

Hello Tharanga,

You can find a lot of information about all of these words in the Cambridge Dictionary. In the entry for 'need', you'll see that 'I need to understand' is the correct form, and if you compare the definitions and examples for 'seldom' and 'rarely', you'll see that they are similar in meaning. 'seldom' usually means less frequent than 'rarely', but they are very close in meaning.

Please be sure to try to find answers yourself before asking us here. We're happy to help, but we don't have the time to answer questions that users can find the answer to themselves with a little bit of work, nor can we provide frequent, personal instruction.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
All these time, I had been of the opinion that the "perfect continuous (active) forms of all three tenses" do not have passive form but I saw an example in your site.
"Present perfect continuous:
Active- Recently, John has been doing the work.
Passive- Recently, the work has been being done by John."

"Past perfect continuous:
Active- Chef Jones had been preparing the restaurant's fantastic dinners for two years before he moved to Paris.
Passive: The restaurant's fantastic dinners had been being prepared by Chef Jones for two years before he moved to Paris."
"Future perfect continuous:
Active:
The famous artist will have been painting the mural for over six months by the time it is finished.
Passive: The mural will have been being painted by the famous artist for over six months by the time it is finished."
so please comment whether these passive forms are correct and used by native speakers in formal contexts.
S.Umashankar

Hello S.Umashankar,

Could you tell me where you saw these passive sentences? While they are formed with the correct parts, these perfect continuous tenses are so awkward that they are never really used. If you searched hard enough, I suppose you could find an example of them somewhere, but I would highly recommend you not use them yourself.

By the way, please also try to ask your questions on an appropriate page. For example, this question would make more sense on one of our Verbs pages on either the passive or one of these forms.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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?

Thanks,
Best Regards,
Nandish.

Hello, I don't really know when to use to ing which acts as a preposition. I have remembered all the rules like looking forward to, be opposed to,object to and .... But I really don't know when it comes to a sentence like this '' a guide to parenting. Why is it a parenting. What does it mean. Is it wrong to use a guide to parent moms. Can you give me more examples of to prepositions.

Hello Rafael darn,

Prepositions like 'to' in your example are always followed by objects. In your example 'parenting' is a gerund - a noun formed from a verb - with the meaning 'a guide to being a parent'. It is the object of the preposition 'to'.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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