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.


 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

"I really do regret not to learn to play the violin when I had so many oppurtunity to learn and practice in school ".
Can you please explain why this statement is incorrect ??

Hello Anishd,

When we use 'regret' to speak about a past event that we are sad about, verbs after it generally go in the -ing form (not the infinitive). There's also a mistake in the phrase 'so many opportunity' -- 'many' is plural and 'opportunity' is singular (also notice the spelling).

I think that should answer your question, but if anything's not clear please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Team.
Help me with this, please..
"Your sound definitely makes me want visit"
Why isn't there a 'to' after the verb 'want' in the sentence?
Would you like to explain, please?
Thank you.
=============
( I posted this question a couple days ago but why I haven't seen yet it on the screen?)

Hi Nizam Balinese,

The sentence is not grammatically correct. It may be an error or it may be deliberately ungrammatical.

This is one reason why we generally do not comment on examples from elsewhere. Quite apart from not knowing the context in which they appear and the intentions of the speaker/writer, they may be non-standard, be examples of slang or dialect or be simply incorrect.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter.
My apologies and thank you for explaining.

Is it correct to say
I stuck the stamp to the envelope
Instead of saying
I stuck the stamp on the envelope

And can I use "to" in other sentences similar to this one like:
I pinned the note to the fridge
Instead of
I pinned the note on the fridge

Hello Skadi,

I suppose you could use 'to' in these cases, though 'on' is the best choice. But if you used 'to', I doubt it would cause any confusion.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I'm getting a bit confused with tenses.

For the phrase "I decided to run away" is there a rule for why it is not "ran" away other than because it's a to - infinitive?
For another example why is it "I saw him run away" not "I saw him ran away"?

(I realise these are probably two different grammar points but would appreciate your help)

Thanks so much.

Hello Alex_C,

The issue here is not really about tenses, but about verb patterns. Tenses describe time, and can be modified further with aspect (continuous or perfective). Verb patterns describe how different verbs interact - in other words, what follows a particular verb, whether or not it requires and object, if it always occurs in certain structures and so on.

In your first example the key information is that 'decide' is followed by 'to + infinitive'. This is the verb's pattern and it simply needs to be remembered.

In your second example, the pattern is simpler. 'See' is followed by a direct object:

I saw him.

I saw the dog.

The rest of the sentence describes the object:

I saw him do it. [the whole action from start to finish]

I saw him doing it. [a part of the action in progress] 

Many sense verbs work like this: hear, see, feel, listen to, watch etc.

Remember that verbs can have more than one pattern, often with changes in meaning. For example, we can say

I stopped smoking.

I stopped to smoke.

You can find more about verb patterns on this page. Use the links on the right to see examples of various patterns.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Namskar teacher, I want to know the difference between
infinitive 'to' and Without "to" does it change the meaning of the sentence.
i.e i want to talk to you.
I want talk to You.

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