We 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 sometimes say in order to or in order not to:

We set off early in order to avoid the traffic.
They spoke quietly in order not to wake the children

… or we can say so as to or so as not to:

We set off early so as to avoid the traffic.
They spoke quietly so as not to wake the children.

• after certain verbs (see verbs followed by infinitive), particularly verbs of thinking and feeling:

choose, decide, expect, forget, hate, hope, intend, learn, like,
love, mean, plan, prefer, remember, want, would like, would love

… and verbs of saying:

agree, promise, refuse

They decided to start a business together.
Remember to turn the lights out.

Some verbs are followed by a direct object and the infinitive(see verbs followed by infinitive):

advise, ask, encourage, invite, order, persuade, remind, tell, warn,
expect, intend, would prefer, want, would like

She reminded me to turn the lights out.
He encouraged his friends to vote for him.

• after certain adjectives.

Sometimes the to-infinitive gives a reason for the adjective:

  • disappointed
  • glad
  • sad
  • happy
  • anxious
  • pleased
  • surprised
  • proud
  • 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

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

It’s easy to play the piano, but it’s very difficult to play well.
He spoke so quickly it was impossible to understand him.

We use the preposition for to show who these adjectives refer to:

  • difficult
  • easy
  • possible
  • impossible
  • hard

It was difficult for us to hear what she was saying.
It is easy for you to criticise other people.

We use the preposition of with other adjectives:

It’s kind of you to help.
It would be silly of him to spend all his money.

• As a postmodifier (see noun phrases) after abstract nouns like:

  • ability
  • desire
  • need
  • wish
  • attempt
  • failure
  • opportunity
  • chance
  • intention

I have no desire to be rich.
They gave him an opportunity to escape.
She was annoyed by her failure to answer the question correctly.

• We often use a to-infinitive as a postmodifier after an indefinite pronoun (See 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.


 

Exercise

Comments

Hello sagacious25,

I'm afraid we don't comment on examples from other sites. These are examples which other sites have used for their own teaching purposes and if you have questions about them then you should ask the authors. Sometimes a teacher might use a given example to establish a point, and we do not know the context in which it is used or the purpose. We are responsible for the material which we put on our own site, and we're happy to comment on that or to provide explanations of the language more generally, but we don't get involved in discussion based on what other sites might state or claim.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there,

Could you please help me with this question:

Is it right to put "to" in these sentences?

1. Allow him come in
2. The money enabled her enter the city

Thanks

Hi rinnah,

Yes, 'to' is necessary in those sentences. The constructions are:

allow SB to [verb]

enable SB to [verb]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir;

The following sentences are grammatically correct ?. Please explain.

The tasks to complete are very difficult - noun + to + verb

The tasks to have are very difficult - noun + to + verb

The tasks for this week are very difficult. - noun + for

Thanks

Hi pumbi,

Only the third sentence is correct. I would change the other two as follows:

The tasks we have to complete are very difficult

I'm not sure what you are trying to say in the third sentence.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello team
" I go home" we cannot use "to" in it becoz home is adverb
like that I go to school or I go to office is Incorrect isn't it?

when we use continuous tense

I'm going to home

I'm going to school

I'm going to office
should be correct becoz here The verb is "be" predicate is already given,

so we use " to" here to give direction but

I'm confusing about "I'm going to home" native do speakers use it?
like I go home;
Are" I go school, I go office" correct?

Hello raj jk,

We do not use 'to' before 'home' because 'home' is, as you say, an adverb. The form of the verb (simple or continuous) does not change this in any way. We say 'I'm going home' not 'I'm going to home'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thank you so much peter
but what's the reason for "home" is an adverb while school and office are just places..?
that's the point I cannot make clear there

Hello raj jk,

There is no reason here in the sense that there is no rule at work which determines which words can fulfil which role. 'Home' is a word which can function as an adverb or a noun and in this particular example it is an adverb.

It is possible to make 'home' a noun and then use 'to'. However, we then need to add a possessive adjective or an article:

I'm going home. (adverb)

I'm going to my home. (noun)

I'm going to the home of my friend. (noun)

 

Note that if we use 'school' or 'office' as a noun representing a building then we also need an article or a possessive adjective:

I'm going to the office.

I'm going to my school.

 

The phrase 'I'm going to office' is not correct. It is possible to say 'I'm going to school' but this means you are on your way to learn in school (i.e. you are a pupil) rather than referring to the building itself.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

that's very good explanation thank you peter

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