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

1.Researchers at Iowa State University are testing how well catnip oil works to do the same thing.
In this sentence, does 'to do the same thing' works as an adverb? or a noun? If it works as an adverb, it contains the meaning of purpose, or intent?
2.He grew up to be a good pianist.
 
In this sentence, to-infinitive is used as an adverb. My tutor says 'To' roles as 'and'.
3.To see it, you will not believe it.
In this sentence, to infinitive is used like 'even if', accoding to my KOREAN grammar book. But, my pal says that that's a wrong sentence. Is that wrong?

Hello,
I would agree with your pal - the sentence 'To see it, you will not believe it' sounds very unnatural to me.
Best wishes,
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

And also, most of my teachers(not a native) says that in these sentences, to infinitives and participle phrase is used to indicate a 'reason'.
He must be crazy to leave now.(or leaving)
(My teachers said 'to' acts like 'because')
But, above, there is a just one explanation, that is"give a opinion". And also, there is a no explanation in the book "advanced grammar in use".

Hello again alyuuv!
 
The grammar description does say that infinitives can be used to give reasons - look again:

• after certain adjectives.
Sometimes the to-infinitive gives a reason for the adjective.
 
Regards
 
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Other adjectives with the to-infinitive are:
•able
•unable
•due
•eager
•keen
•likely
•unlikely
•ready
•prepared
•unwilling
•willing

Unfortunately I was unable to work for over a week.
I am really tired. I’m ready to go to bed.

We often use the to-infinitive with these adjectives after it to give opinions:
•difficult
•easy
•possible
•impossible
•hard
•right
•wrong
•kind
•nice
•clever
•silly
•foolish
I can't understand these parts. I've just looked up several dictionaries, and some says 'to' is a preposition which adds the meaning of expressing motion, direction, or purpose. So, what I want to say is, in the first one, are to-infinitives used to indicate a direction? And also, I don't get it what "give opinions mean.

Hello alyuuv!
 
You're right that to is a prepostion sometimes, but there is also a verb form called the infinitive. This is often used with to, but it is not the same as the preposition. It is a special grammar form, as in 'I was unable to work.' In English grammar, we can't say 'I was unable work', we use 'to +verb' instead.

We often use this infinitive form with adjectives to show what we think of something - give our opinions. For example:
 
English grammar is sometimes difficult to understand.
 
is an opinion - what I think about English grammar.
 
I hope that helps!
 
Regards
 
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, may I ask some questions ? I totally get confuse and tomorrow I'll get a test about this ;(
1. We have decided to rent a new apartment.
2. Mother always advices me to study everyday.
3. Are you planning to take a vacation this year?
4. They are considering to celebrate New Year's Eve in Bali.
5. Love can encourage people to express their true feeling towards other people and nature.
6. After New Year's Eve, would you mind to change your annoying behavior?
Do I've make these sentences correctly? Can't wait for the reply, really appreciate it. Thank you ;)

Hello Anyssa,
I'm afraid we don't have time to correct students' sentences - we have many thousands of users and only limited time to answer questions.
Of your sentences, numbers 1, 3 and 5 are good. In number 2, you misspelled a word. In sentences 4 and 6 you used infinitives where you should have used gerunds.
Good luck with your test.
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

that's it!

Hello all ... And I want to say thank you to British Council. I love English since I was teenage ...

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