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 naaka,

This really depends on the context. Generally, as a stand-alone sentence we would use the full form, not the fragment, but in less formal writing, and as part of a longer text it may be possible to use the shorter form. However, most of the time it would be better to use the fully grammatical form (with 'are').

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

Please could you give me a answer for my previous question.

Thank you.

Hello naaka,

I am afraid you will have to be a little more patient. Please remember that our main role is to maintain the site and update the materials. When we have time we try to answer questions from our users. We get many questions every day and are a small team.

You have posted three questions today. We will try to answer your questions, but only when and if time allows. Please do not post follow-up questions reminding us or asking us to do it more quickly.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

Actually I'm really sorry for bothering you. I asked this question again after waiting 7 days. Because I know you are too busy with this site and extra services you provided to us.Thank you for all these works you are doing for us. Actually I have no idea how many days you want to answer a question and that's why I waited 7 days to get an answer from British council team. Now I know 7 days are not enough to answer a question.

So I'm afraid to ask the answer for my question again. Because with all do respect you haven't given a answer for my question from your previous reply also.

Thank you.

Hello naaka,

I have answered your question above.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

I have a couple sentences to clear up.

My goal is to have become a doctor in seven years.
My goal is to become a doctor in seven years.

I read in a book that we use the present perfect infinitive (to have become) to talk about an action that will/might take place before a specified time in the future. However, using the simple infinitive (to become) looks okay too.

Are both sentences okay?

I hope that I am posting on the correct page. If not, I apologize.

Agent_009

Hello Agent_009,

Yes, both sentences are fine. The first means 'some time before seven years' and the second means 'when seven years has passed'. You might use the second if you know that it will definitely take seven years - for example, you have a seven-year course of study ahead of you. You might use the first if you do not know how long it will take, but see seven years as being the maximum possible time you will take.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

What a rally to win / What a rally to win a set/match / What a match to win =
=It is used in excalamatory sentences, which is why it is typically used in commentary and speeches.

Is it possible to use this structure when I have enough time to think about it? Beacuase I heard Federer say: It was incredibly hard shot to hit. It was a post match interview at Wimbledon.

Thank you for your reading my comment! It is the last think I am curious to know about it!

Hello Dominik9966,

That is possible, but it is a different construction to the 'What a... to...' that you asked about in your first question!

The infinitive can be used after adjectives in this way:

It is easy to do.

We were stupid to try that.

You can also include a noun:

It is an easy thing to do.

We were stupid idiots to try.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much Peter!

Can I ask you for one more help?

1) What a shot to win a rally = exclamatory (e.g. tennis matches)

2) ..incredibly hard shot to hit = when do I usually use this structure?

My last question is focused on previous post :)

Wawrinka beats Federer to win MC tournament.

1) You said it is similar to infinitiv of purpose. Does it really work the same way even though it isn´t 100% infinitiv of purpose? I wish to know it to be 100% sure when I can use it.

Thank you once again! :)

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