Level: beginner

Many verbs in English are followed by the infinitive with to. Some of these verbs take the pattern:

  • Verb + to + infinitive

We planned to take a holiday.
She decided to stay at home.

Others verbs take the pattern:

  • Verb + noun + to + infinitive

She wanted the children to learn the piano.
I told him to ring the police.

Two very common verbs – make and let – are followed by the infinitive without to. They take the pattern:

  • Verb + noun + infinitive

My parents made me come home early.
They wouldn't let me stay out late.

The verb dare can be followed by the infinitive with or without to:

  • Verb (+ to) + infinitive

I didn't dare (to) go out after dark.

verb + to + infinitive

Some verbs are followed by the infinitive with to:

I decided to go home as soon as possible.
We all wanted to have more English classes.

Common verbs with this pattern are:

  • verbs of thinking and feeling:
choose
decide
expect
forget
hate
hope
intend
learn
like
love
mean
plan
prefer
remember
want
would like/love
  • verbs of saying:
agree promise refuse threaten
  • others
arrange
attempt
fail
help
manage
tend
try
 
Verb + to + infinitive 1

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Verb + to + infinitive 2

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verb + noun + to + infinitive

Some verbs are followed by a noun and the infinitive with to:

She asked him to send her a text message.
He wanted all his friends to come to his party.

Common verbs with this pattern are:

  • verbs of saying:
advise
ask
encourage
invite
order

 
persuade
remind

 
tell
warn*

 

* Note that warn is normally used with not:

The police warned everyone not to drive too fast.

  • verbs of wanting and liking:
hate
intend
like
love
mean
prefer
want
would like/love
  • others:
allow
enable
expect
force
get
 
teach
 

Many of the verbs above are sometimes followed by a passive infinitive (to be + past participle):

I expected to be met when I arrived at the station.
They wanted to be told if anything happened.
I don't like driving myself. I prefer to be driven.

Verb + noun + to + infinitive 1

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Verb + noun + to + infinitive 2

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Level: intermediate

make and let

The verbs make and let are followed by a noun and the infinitive without to:

They made him pay for the things he had broken.
The doctor made me wait for almost an hour.
They let you go in free at the weekend.
Will you let me come in?

But the passive form of make is followed by the infinitive with to:

He was made to pay for the things he had broken.
I was made to wait for almost an hour.

let has no passive form. We use allow instead:

We were allowed to go in free at the weekend.
I was allowed to go in.

dare

The verb dare is hardly ever found in positive sentences. It is almost always used in negative sentences and questions.

When it is used with an auxiliary or a modal verb, dare can be followed by the infinitive with or without to:

I didn't dare (to) disturb him.
Who would dare (to) accuse him?

But when there is no auxiliary or modal, dare is followed by the infinitive without to:

Nobody dared disturb him.
I daren't ask him.

make, let and dare

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Comments

Hello Livon,

What you are essentially asking is what the infinitive is used for, and the answer is that it is used for many things.  The infinitive can be used in all of the ways which you list, and more besides.  To list, explain and exemplify them all would require a very long and detailed response, which is really what the grammar pages are for here on LearnEnglish.  For example, here is the page on the infinitive, which contains, I believe, just the information you are looking for.  With a little seaching in the grammar pages you should be able to find the right section (here is the section on verbs, for example) and the relevant material; the comments sections of LearnEnglish are really for more specific questions on particular examples or rules.

I hope the links are useful.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Pete,
Regards,
Livon

I feel as thought I must have learned this at some point! Please clarify for me which is correct:

I encourage you to treat the event as a networking opportunity and invite potential customers.
OR
I encourage you to treat the event as a networking opportunity and to invite potential customers.

Thank you!
Maggie

Hello Maggie,

Both of these are correct.  The verb 'encourage' is followed by an infinitive with 'to', so 'to invite' is correct; however, where there are two identical forms in the sentence then we often omit the repeated 'to' for stylistic reasons, and so 'invite' is also possible.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Teacher,
what is the difference between two sentences given below?
1 she seems to comprehend my problems.
2 she seems comprehending my problems.

Hi neha_sri,

The main difference is that the first sentence is correct and the second is incorrect! 'Seem' is followed by an infinitive with to, not by an -ing form.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir,
Can we use past participle with the verb 'seem'?
She seems worried.
Instead of
>She seems to be worried.
My second question is that the sentance given below is of gerund form or participle form?
>He was found to be carrying undecleared goods.
>He was found carrying undecleared goods.
This form of the sentance is correct or not?

Hi neha_sri,

The word 'worried' here is actually an adjective, though it has the same form as the past participle. You can see this if you consider that we could use other adjectives here such as 'happy', 'enthusiastic' and so on.

In the second sentence the -ing form is a participle form, not a gerund. Both of your examples are correct forms.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
So what is the difference between two of the examples?
>He was found to be carrying undecleared goods.
>He was found carrying undecleared goods.

Hi Sir,

What is the criteria for using a to infinitive after like or love verbs, they are really appearing in the first list of the verbs which have to be followed by a -ing form. (see next chapter)

thank you in advance.

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