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

Respected sir,

Please look at the sentence below

I am fortunate to have him as my friend.

Does the above 'to' infinitive work as a reason?

I means does it mean I am fortunate because I have a friend like him? Or does it mean something else?

Thank you.

Hello deepuips,

Yes, you are correct: it is is an example of an infinitive giving the reason for the adjective.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello,

"Someone asked a clown......." In this sentence why don't we put "from". I mean in this way, "Someone asked from a clown"

Thank you.

Hello naaka,

That is not how the verb 'ask' works - it takes an object without any preposition. It might be helpful to look it up in our dictionary to see the example sentences there.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
"He has no right to getting involved to it" Is this sentence grammatically correct? They used 'ing "form after "to".I know there are some sentences like that.for an example" I'm looking forward to helping you"And also I'd like to know how we can identify this thing.

Thank you.

Hello naaka,

I'll explain this, but just so you know, you can often find the answer to questions such as this one in our dictionary. If you look up 'right' there and look through all the entries (there are quite a few), you can see: in the right › [+ to infinitive] You have every right (= you have a good reason) to complain.

Therefore, 'He has no right to get involved in it' would be the correct way to say this. (Note also that the preposition that usually goes with 'involved' is 'in'.)

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello kirk,

I'm sorry for disturbing you again.I understood what you mean, but I' d also like to know how do we identify which one goes with 'ING' form and which one goes with "infinitive?' Can we find that one from dictionary?

Thank you for your help.

Hello naaka,

There's really no easy, reliable way to tell whether 'to' is acting as part of an infinitive or as a preposition just by looking at a sentence. A good dictionary, however, will indicate how to use a word that goes with 'to', though different ones may do it in different ways.

The Cambridge Dictionaries, for example, don't indicate that 'to' is a preposition, but will indicating to use an -ing form. See, for example, the entry for 'look forward', where you can see this in the definition and in the examples. In the entry for 'keen', you can see in the use of an infinitive after 'keen' in the first example sentence.

As you find these forms, I'd recommend you make a list of them. That way you can refer to and even study your list to master these forms more efficiently.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
As far as I know, "for + noun" construction is used to talk about the purpose of an action, so is right to say " he was sent for prison for killing an innocent boy." in stead of " he was sent to prison for killing an innocent boy."? and is there any difference in meaning between the two sentences?

Thanks in advance

Hi zagrus,

The first sentence (with 'for prison') is not standard English. 'to' (and not 'for') is used to indicate direction or movement, which is what is meant here.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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