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'to'-infinitives

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

thank you peter!

hello
To is infinitive verb marker.. but in this "You can keep it" KEEP is not finite by subject YOU.
but i never heard that anyone says "you can to keep it". could you explain sir what happens in that sentences.

Hello Tharanga pud,

Infinitives are sometimes used with 'to' and sometimes without 'to'; when they are used without 'to' (such as in 'You can keep it'), they are often referred to as a 'bare infinitive' or 'base form'. Verbs that come after modal verbs like 'can' are used in the base form. This is why 'You can keep' is correct and 'You can to keep' is not.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello.would you tell me when we use simple form after "help"?and when we use to+infinitive?
with best wishes.

Hello rastak keen,

Both forms are fine and mean the same thing; they are alternatives.

I helped him to get into the car.

I helped him get into the car.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello, is the following sentence correct?
" Did they always use those motor-bikes ? - No, they were used to deliver the mail during the rush-hours"
I woluld have written".....No, they used to deliver the mail during rush-hours"

Hello manuel24,

I would say the most likely form is:

Did they always use those motor-bikes?

No, they used them to deliver the mail during the rush-hour.

You could say 'rush hours' if, for example, you are thinking of several rush hours during the day (one at 09.00, one at 17.00 etc).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello ,"I loved my holiday in England, but I didn't like the driving. I did over one thousand kilometres!"
could be used to+infinite instead of "the driving"?

hello, if the rule says " Remember/forget + to + infinitive means that you remember something you have to do – a duty or a chore" so i don't understand this sentence:
Oh dear! I forgot my homework! The teacher will be angry..please help me

Hello manuel24,

The sentence you provide is not an example of this rule as there is a direct object after 'forget' and not an infinitive. Compare:

I forgot my homework. (I didn't bring it with me)

I forgot to do my homework. (I didn't remember to do it)

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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