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

Is it correct to say
I stuck the stamp to the envelope
Instead of saying
I stuck the stamp on the envelope

And can I use "to" in other sentences similar to this one like:
I pinned the note to the fridge
Instead of
I pinned the note on the fridge

Hello Skadi,

I suppose you could use 'to' in these cases, though 'on' is the best choice. But if you used 'to', I doubt it would cause any confusion.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I'm getting a bit confused with tenses.

For the phrase "I decided to run away" is there a rule for why it is not "ran" away other than because it's a to - infinitive?
For another example why is it "I saw him run away" not "I saw him ran away"?

(I realise these are probably two different grammar points but would appreciate your help)

Thanks so much.

Hello Alex_C,

The issue here is not really about tenses, but about verb patterns. Tenses describe time, and can be modified further with aspect (continuous or perfective). Verb patterns describe how different verbs interact - in other words, what follows a particular verb, whether or not it requires and object, if it always occurs in certain structures and so on.

In your first example the key information is that 'decide' is followed by 'to + infinitive'. This is the verb's pattern and it simply needs to be remembered.

In your second example, the pattern is simpler. 'See' is followed by a direct object:

I saw him.

I saw the dog.

The rest of the sentence describes the object:

I saw him do it. [the whole action from start to finish]

I saw him doing it. [a part of the action in progress] 

Many sense verbs work like this: hear, see, feel, listen to, watch etc.

Remember that verbs can have more than one pattern, often with changes in meaning. For example, we can say

I stopped smoking.

I stopped to smoke.

You can find more about verb patterns on this page. Use the links on the right to see examples of various patterns.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Namskar teacher, I want to know the difference between
infinitive 'to' and Without "to" does it change the meaning of the sentence.
i.e i want to talk to you.
I want talk to You.

Hello rameshwaraavhad,

The question of whether to use to + infinitive or the infinitive without to is really a question about the verb which comes before. Some verbs are followed by to + infinitive and other by the infinitive without to. For example, 'want' is followed by to + infinitive and so your second example is not grammatically correct.

I'm afraid there is no rule to tell you which verbs are followed by which form. You simply have to learn this with each verb. For example:

want + to infinitive

try + to infinitive

allow SB + to infinitive

 

let SB + infinitive without to

make + SB + infinitive without to

 

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

why don't you suggest me the correct template of the letter writing, why do ask me to search in other website. the purpose of this site is to help the people like me then why you

Hello paparna1986,

The purpose of this site is to provide high-quality materials for self-study. Where possible, we provide support for users who are using those materials by explaining aspects which are unclear and providing help with the broader language system. In other words, the LearnEnglish Team is here to help users with our materials, not to provide individual courses or to act as individual teachers for our users.

 

There are no templates on our site. This is not the kind of material that we have available. Therefore, Kirk gave you the most helpful suggestion he could.

 

If you require someone to produce templates for you on demand then you will need to hire a teacher to work with you. That is not our role. We offer, free of charge, a range of materials to help you improve your English and we will help you to use these materials if you have problems. We do not write new materials upon demand, however.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

can you please guide me the format of the a leave letter to the principal of the school and format of the letter to any office regarding complaining about some issue. and also the format for the letter to write an application for any job

Hello paparna1986,

I'd suggest you do an internet search for 'template leave request letter', 'template letter of complaint' and 'template job application cover letter'. I'm sure you'll find many good examples out there. I'd recommend looking at a few of each and then choosing the one that looks best for your needs.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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