The infinitive of a verb is its basic form.
The infinitive has two forms:
the TO-infinitive = TO + base
the zero (bare) infinitive = base
You can use an infinitive and a gerund as the subject, the complement, or the object of a sentence. However, as subjects or complements, gerunds usually sound more like normal, spoken
English, whereas infinitives sound more abstract.
To swim is a good exercise.
Swimming is a good exercise.
Infinitives can be made negative by adding "not."
He decided not to do it.
After the following phrases we use the infinitive with TO:
1. Common verbs followed by an infinitive
|Agree||The bank has agreed to lend me £5,000.|
|Aim||I aim to be a millionaire by the time I'm 35.|
|Appear||There appears to be some mistake.|
|Arrange||She's arranged for her son to have swimming lessons.|
|Ask||I couldn't ask you to do that.|
|Attempt||Rescue workers attempted to cut him from the crashed vehicle.|
|Be able||We were not able to give any answers.|
|Beg||He begged me to give him the phone number.|
|Begin||I began to e-mail you but got interrupted.|
|Can/can’t afford||We can't afford to miss this play.|
|Can/can’t wait||I can’t wait for the guests to arrive.|
|Care||Would you care to sit down, please?|
They chanced to be in the restaurant when I arrived.
|Choose||I chose to fly rather than drive.|
|Come||A witness came forward to say that she had seen him that night.|
||Very reluctantly, I've consented to lend her my car.|
|Dare||Do you dare (to) tell him the news?|
|Decide||In the end, we decided to go to the theatre.|
|Demand||I demand to see a doctor.|
|Deserve||He deserves to be treated with respect.|
|Endeavour||He endeavoured to attract the waiter's attention.|
|Expect||He didn't expect to see me.|
|Fail||He failed to do his duty.|
|Get||I got to know the town really well.|
|Grow (up)||I grew to hate my job.|
|Guarantee||Just looking at a picture of the sea is guaranteed to make me feel sick.|
|Happen||It happened to snow on the night she was born.|
|Have||I have to speak to your father.|
|Hesitate||If you need anything, don't hesitate to call me.|
|Hope||We hope to buy a house in the spring.|
|Hurry||She hurried to answer the phone.|
Her attitude did not incline me to help her.
|Learn||I'm learning to play the piano.|
|Long||She longed to see him again.|
|Manage||I managed to get a promotion.|
|Mean||I meant to go running this morning, but I overslept.|
|Need||You'll need to work hard to pass this exam.|
|Neglect||He neglected to mention the fact that we could lose money on the deal.|
|Oblige||The law does not obligate sellers to accept the highest offer.|
|Offer||He offered to take her home in a taxi.|
|Ought||You ought to work harder than that.|
|Pay||I think we'll need to pay a builder to take this wall down.|
|Permit||The security system will not permit you to enter without the correct password.|
|Plan||I'm not planning to stay here much longer.|
It seems as if she is preparing to win.
|Plead||He pleaded to be allowed to go.|
|Pledge||I've been pledged to secrecy.|
|Promise||She promises to be a fine actor.|
|Propose||I propose to leave town now.|
|Prove||The experiment proved to be successful.|
|Refuse||He refused to leave.|
|Remain||A cure remains to be found.|
|Request||He requested me to leave.|
|Seek||They sought to reassure the public.|
|Seem||You seem to be very interested.|
|Start||They started to work.|
|Strive||He strives to get promotion.|
|Swear||He swore to do his duty.|
|Tend||Men tend to die younger than women.|
|Threaten||They threatened to kill him.|
|Use||Use scissors to cut the shapes out.|
|Volunteer||We were volunteered to do the dishes.|
|She waited for me to say something.|
|Want/Would like||What do you want to eat?|
|Wish||I wish to make a complaint.
2. The to-infinitive is used to express the purpose of something and answer the question "Why?"
In this case TO has the same meaning as "in order to" or "so as to".
I remained there to see what would happen.
3. We often use the TO-infinitive with these adjectives after "IT" to give opinions, make a comment or judgement:
A common pattern for using the TO-infinitive with an adjective:
subject + to be + adjective + (for/of someone) + to-infinitive + (rest of sentence)
It is easy to play football.
It is wrong to kill animals.
It is possible for you to find a new job.
It is difficult for me to say "I love you".
4. Sometimes the TO-infinitive gives a reason or additional information about these adjective:
I'm happy to hear it.
I'm glad to be here.
He is ready to go there.
5. The To-infinitive is used after the first/the last/the next:
Mike was the first to read the book.
6. Verbs followed by an infinitive without TO:
- auxiliaries/modal verbs (can/could/may/might/must/shall/should/will/would/do)
- Had better/would rather
Let me show you
They made us wait
I heard Mike sing a song
Help can be followed by an infinitive without TO or a TO-infinitive:
She helped me find/to find a direction.