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

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

Thank you,Peter but can't I use the passive form with "bite" ? How can I do this in the sentence " The dog tried to bite me yesterday"?

Hello Shaban Nafea,

It is possible to follow 'try' with a passive form but not to make 'try' itself passive. For example, imagine a situation in which a person wants to be sacked from their job and is doing everything to make their boss angry. We could say the following:

She tried very hard to be sacked from her job.

It's a very unusual form. As far as 'bite' goes, you could need to think of a situation in which a person wants to be bitten but finds it difficult to achieve. Then you might say:

He tried to be bitten.

Again, however, this is a very strange sentence. You need to imagine a highly unlikely context and the whole thing is rather artificial. You can see these sentences with other verbs from time to time:

I want to be informed immediately.

I hope to be chosen for the team.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

It's being said that used/ought is always followed by infinitive 'to + v1' but in the sentence " They ought to have insisted on some compensation. " why the word "insisted" is of a different form. If "have" is the main verb here then what role "insisted" is playing here. Also please clarify if there are cases where used/ought is followed by verb form other than v1.

Hello shivamgetz,

I'm afraid I don't agree with that rule. While 'ought' and 'used' can both be followed by a present infinitive ('to + v1'), they are also used in other, different ways. The sentence you cite is an example -- in it, 'ought' is followed by a perfect infinitive ('to have insisted') and this is correct. 'used' is not followed by a perfect infinitive.

I'd suggest you read up on 'ought to' and 'used to' by following the links.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,
I have a silly question about the sentence "They ordered him to lie flat on the floor with his hands behind his back."
In which position did they order him to lie? on his back or stomach?

Hello Delta,

I would say on his stomach. I suppose it's possible that one could lie on the floor on one's back with one's hands behind one's back, but most of the time it would be on one's stomach.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Yes, I agree with you. Thank you, Kirk.

Hi,

Quoting your example above, "He wanted all his friends to come to his party", which illustrates the concept that some verbs are followed by a noun and the to-infinitive. My question are:

a) Concerning the sentence above, is it right to say that the infinitve phrase "to come to his party" is the direct object of the verb "wanted", and that "all his friends" is the actor or subject of the infinitive phrase?
b) Or is it a case where "all his friends to come to his party" is the direct obejct of the verb "wanted"?
c) In addition, my last questions concerns the matter of direct and indirect objects. Using the same sentence, am I right to say that the infinitve phrase "to come to his party" is the direct object of the verb "wanted", and that "all his friends" is the indirect object?

Thanks!

Regards,
Timothy

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