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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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 Karth1,

The sentence is correct but I can see why it might look unusual. The speaker has used ellipsis, which means omitting certain words for reasons of style or other rhetorical preference. The 'full' sentence would be as follows:

it is a tiny little bird which has come to look at sam’s tent

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter!
On this context, can I say if this sentence works?
“You can play the guitar after I mended it?”

Hello Karth1,

The verb form is not correct there. Time words such as after are followed by present forms when we want a future meaning, so you can use a present simple or a present perfect form here:

You can use the guitar after I mend it.

You can use the guitar after I have mended it.

 

You can read more about the verb forms used in time clauses on this page.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I wonder if the verb "use" belongs to the list of verbs followed by infinitive, as in "I used the key to open the door." If so, what is the function of the infinitive? Does it modify "key"?

Hello Vahid82,

It's great that you are trying to make sense of this, but 'use' is a verb that is used in many ways and isn't always used with an infinitive. In the sentence you ask about, the infinitive form is an infinitive of purpose, which is explained on our to + infinitive page. 

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
Is grammar everything for learning english or there are some other terms(that grammar does not include) too?

Hello Jaspreet Brar,

Grammar is the system which describes how words are put together, and it's of course impossible to learn a language well without learning it, but it's certainly not everything. Vocabulary, for example, is also essential.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Kirk

It Makes perfect sense. I think I might have figured it out now: the infinitive in that sentence has actually replaced the adverb clause.

A dog tried to bite me yesterday.
What's the passive ?
I tried to be bitten yesterday.
I was tried to be bitten yesterday.
Or I was about to be bitten yesterday.

Hello Shaban Nafea,

The verb 'try' can be intransitive (having no object) or transitive (requiring an object. In this use (meaning 'attempt' and followed by an infinitive) it is intransitive and therefore there is no passive form.

When 'try' is used with the meaning 'sample' or 'test' it is a transitive verb and so has a passive form:

I tried the soup and it was awful!

The soup was tried by me and it was awful!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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