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.




Hello deepuips,

Yes, you are correct: it is is an example of an infinitive giving the reason for the adjective.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teachers.
You are not referring to the country or city, but to something in it.

Is it OK to use "to something" without a verb?

Hello Dwishiren,

Although it looks like part of an infinitive, 'to' here is actually a preposition and so it is fine to follow it with a noun. The verb in the second part of the sentence is the same as that in the first part, and it is omitted to avoid repetition:

You are not referring to the country or city, but (your are referring) to something in it.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much, Peter.

Hi, British Council!

I am confused with these use cases I read on some website:
"Gillian Flynn TO write female-led heist film for 12 Years a Slave director."
"Man likely TO sell 'dream house' because Comcast won't give him internet."
Could you help me? Thank you in advance.

Hello Andrii,

These sounds like headlines for news articles. Headlines often miss out words. In this case, the subject of each sentence 'is to do something', which means they plan to do something.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

I am really happy to find this page.

Could you help me please how this form of TO works? I haven´t found it in any book. :(

Here are examples:

What a rally to win. (IN TENNIS - commentator during a match)

What a rally to win a set/match (the same)

What a match to win. (IN TENNIS - commentator during a match)

Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo tournament.

I have already written similar post on WR forum but I was told I had better to ask for help here.

Thank you very much for your time!

Hello Dominik9966,

You have several examples here. The first three are examples of the 'to infinitive' used to signify the achievement of doing something. It is used in excalamatory sentences, which is why it is typically used in commentary and speeches.

What a rally to win / What a rally to win a set/match / What a match to win.

The meaning here is 'what a (wonderful/amazing) rally that was, and how great an achievement it was that the player won it. We can use other question words in the same structure:

How great an achievement to finish the marathon! / How long it took to write this book!

You other example is a little different. Here we have an example of the 'to infinitive' used to express purpose:

Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo tournament.

The meaning here is similar to 'in order to':

Wawrinka beats Federer in order to win Monte Carlo tournament.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello dear BC team,
every time when I ask a question I get an appropriate answer that apsolutely clear out my doubts, and thank you for that!!

Now I am not quite sure about this sentence: "Wawrinka beats Federer in order to win Monte Carlo tournament."

1. In dictionary, there is an explanation translating "to beat" as "to defeat". So in this context, Wawrinka is loser? Right?
2. Why should we use present simple then. Is this a narrative speaking, so it that context we use present for something happened in the past?
3. The verb "beat", actually have in most casses two meanings "to defeat" and "to hit", right? However, when I translate "beat" into my native language, sometimes it sounds like "to win" which is completelly opposite from the verb"defeat".

Thanks a million!!

Hello swxswx,

Thanks for your comment - that's what we're here for, and it's always nice to know that our work is appreciated!

1. 'to beat' does indeed mean 'to defeat', but it sounds as if you've misunderstood 'to defeat'. If W defeats or beats F, W wins. I'd suggest you check the dictionary again - there's a handy search box on the lower right side of this page.

2. The present tense can be used to talk about the past when we are telling a story of speaking about the story of a film or book. Here, the match is presented as a story, and so the present is used. This is quite common in talking about sport.

3. As I mentioned before, I think you've misunderstood 'to defeat' and 'to beat', because they mean 'to win'. Notice that you win a match, game, tournament or trophy, but you defeat or beat another person or team. And yes, 'beat' can also mean something like 'hit'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team