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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

Excuse me, in my last comment I would to say .."Oh dear! I forgot to do my homework! The teacher will be angry..

hello, in the sentence "I like to wash up as soon as I finish eating" the word "I" can be omitted'?

Hello manuel,

In this case, it would be unusual to omit either of the 'I' pronouns in this sentence. By the way, this kind of omission is called ellipsis and you can read more about it on this Cambridge Dictionary page if you want to know more.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello Sir!

may i ask?

how do we use the gerund and infinitive?? im still confusing
thanks :)

Hello candyjelly26,

The gerund is a noun made from a verb:

travel (verb)

travelling (gerund, noun)

Gerunds are used in the same way any nouns can be used - as subject and objects.

The infinitive is used in many ways, as shown on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
WhIch one is correct
A. Am not confused
B. Am not confuse
And
1.am getting tense
2.am getting tensed

Hello Ajaz ajju,

I'm afraid we don't answer questions like this for users as we would end up doing everyone's homework for them! Why don't you tell us which ones you think are correct, and why, and we'll be happy to tell you if you are right!

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir I think
A and 1 are correct.
Am I right ?
if not please tell me why ?

Hello Ajaz ajju,

I agree with you - those are the correct answers. Well done.

We use 'confused' and 'tense' here because they are adjectives; 'confuse' and 'tensed' are verbs.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Thanks a lot for this tips. Therefore, I have a question...In wich specific situations I can use the verbs love and hate + infinitive or followed by ing. ?
Best wishes
Etiene

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