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'to'-infinitives

Level: beginner

Verbs with to-infinitives

We use the to-infinitive after certain verbs (verbs followed by to-infinitive), particularly verbs of thinking and feeling:

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

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

and verbs of saying:

agree promise refuse threaten

We agreed to meet at the cinema.
Promise to call me every day.

Some verbs are followed by a direct object and then the to-infinitive:

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


 

He encouraged his friends to vote for him.
Remind me to give Julia a call.

Verbs with to-infinitive 1

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Verbs with to-infinitive 2

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Infinitive of purpose

We also 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 can also express purpose with in order to and in order not to:

We started our journey early in order to avoid the traffic.
They spoke quietly in order not to wake the children.

or so as to and so as not to:

We started our journey early so as to avoid the traffic.
They spoke quietly so as not to wake the children.

Infinitive of purpose 1

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Infinitive of purpose 2

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Level: intermediate

Adjectives with to-infinitives

We use the to-infinitive after certain adjectives:

able
unable
anxious
due
eager
keen
likely
unlikely
ready
prepared
willing
unwilling

Unfortunately, I was unable to work for over a week.
I'm really tired. I'm ready to go to bed.

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

amazed
delighted
disappointed
glad
happy
pleased
proud
relieved
sad
sorry
surprised
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.)

We often use it + be followed by an adjective to give opinions:

clever
difficult
easy
foolish
hard
kind
nice
possible
impossible
right
wrong
silly

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

We use the to-infinitive with these adjectives to give opinions about people:

clever
foolish
kind
nice
right
wrong
silly
 

She was right to complain about that hotel.
You were clever to find the answer so quickly.

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

difficult easy hard possible impossible

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

With the other adjectives, we use the preposition of:

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

Adjectives with to-infinitive 1

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Adjectives with to-infinitive 2

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Level: advanced

Nouns with to-infinitives

We use the to-infinitive as a postmodifier (see noun phrases) after abstract nouns like:

ability
attempt
chance
desire
failure
need
opportunity
refusal
wish

They gave him an opportunity to escape.
He was annoyed by her refusal to answer.
I have no desire to be rich.
There is no need to shout.

We often use the to-infinitive as a postmodifier after 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.

Nouns with to-infinitive 1

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Nouns with to-infinitive 2

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Comments

Hello
pls clarify this, which one is correct as past perfect
Jerin had decided to walk home ,for she wanted some exercise.
Jerin had decided to walk home for she had wanted some exercise.
Can we use two 'had' in one sentence

Hello Samin,

The past perfect is used when we want to describe an action which happened before another relevant action in the past. That means that when we use the past perfect there must be another past time action (using past simple or continuous) to act as a point of reference.

 

Your first sentence is correct: the past perfect action (had decided) occurs before the past simple action (wanted) ended.

Your second sentence is not correct without some other context - an action to provide a point of reference in the past simple or continuous. That's not to say it couldn't be correct. It is possible to use two or more past perfect verbs in one sentence provided there is another action to act as the point of reference. However, in your sentence this is missing.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Mr.
I have a question.
When (to infinitive ) is the subject of the sentence, can we use all the linking verbs or just verb (be) ?
For example, can l say
To play with Manchester United seems an impossible dream.

Hello again Reemtb,

Yes, you can use other link verbs in sentences like this one.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much Mr.

A. She is likely to start her new project.

She has to move.

She is pretending to be a man.

She tends to scratch her head.

She may start her new project.

Are the senses and the roles of the to inf.s the same as 'start her new project' of 'may', complementing the (modal) verbs and indicating the action of the subject? Do we speak them in the same sense? If we classify the main verb of modal verbs ad the complement of the modal verbs, do we also classify the inf.s above as the complements of the 'be + adj.'s?

B. I'm dying to eat that cake./I'm dying for that cake.
I'm eager to try out our new suit./I'm eager for the suit.

Do we speak the to inf.s above in the same sense as the 'for~'s? Do they mean the same, expressing the subject's wish, desire, or plan as adverbials?

C. I hoped for some money./I hoped to take the train.
I begged for more candy./I begged to go to the movies.
I longed for an A./I long to get an A.
I volunteered for the job./I volunteered to help the kids.
I was aiming for the trophy./I was aiming to receive the trophy.

Do all of this kind of 'for + N's, meaning 'In support of' or 'in favor of', can also be replaced as a to-inf.?

C. I agreed with the plan./I agreed to go tomorrow.

Is this to-inf. a noun phrase as an object, or an adverbial showing the object the verb is regarding?

Hello Kim Hui-jeong,

With respect to your first question, I'm afraid I'm not exactly sure what you're asking here. The only modal verb here ('may') is in the last sentence, and here it 'behaves' as with any other modal, i.e. the verb after it is a base form. The infinitive after the other verbs is one of multiple possible collocations after those verbs. Perhaps they are all similar in some sort of classification, but I'm afraid we don't present grammar using such classifications on our site.

Some of the sentences in B and C sound a little odd to me (e.g. 'I'm eager for that suit'), and I'm not sure I wouldn't say that those phrases beginning with 'for' mean 'in support of' or 'in favour of'. I'd encourage you to study the example sentences in a good dictionary to see the different ways these words are used.

If you have any other questions, could you please make them a bit shorter and focused on just one thing? It would help us answer your comments more efficiently. Thanks in advance for your understanding.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Mr.
I have a question
First seen in London in 2005, the Orchestra returned in 2007, to produce electrifying performances bringing wide-spread critical acclaim.
In this sentence why there is a comma before to infinitive( , to produce electrifying performances bringing wide-spread critical acclaim.)

Hi Reemtb,

I can't be sure about the writer's intention, but I guess that the writer added the comma because the sentence is quite long (19 words). The comma helps to break it into smaller groups of words that make sense, which makes it easier to read and understand.

There's no grammatical reason for putting a comma there, and many writers wouldn't.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you a lot Mr.
I have another question if you don’t mind.
-To be successful, the show will need to be financed by a wealthy sponsor.
In this sentence is (to) preposition or not? What’s the type of this to infinitive ? And in the cases do we need to invert if the verb was (verb to be).

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