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To + infinitive

How do we know when to use ‘to + infinitive’ (to know, to see, to find etc), and not the gerund or the bare infinitive?  It can be difficult to know, but we have three rules as to when we use the ‘to + infinitive’.

  1. We use ‘to + infinitive’ after specific verbs. (ask to go, plan to find etc.)
  2. We use ‘to + infinitive’ after most Adjectives  to give reason. (happy, difficult etc)
  3. We use ‘to + infinitive’ to show purpose, ‘To & for’ for a full description on ‘to for purpose’.
  • (1) We use ‘to + infinitive’ after specific verbs
WantDid they really want to jet ski?
LearnYou must learn to behave.
PlanShe’s planning to take a Spanish course.
HopeDavid hopes to become an astronaut.
DecideDon’t decide to leave so soon, please.
HelpCan you help me to solve this?
PromiseOur clients promised to make a deal with us.
Would likeHe wouldn’t like to come with us.
DecideWe’ve decided to try.
AgreeDon’t agree to stay if you don’t want to.
AskI’m asking you to do it for me.
Would loveShe’d love to join in.
Would hateI’d hate to know.
WaitThey’ve been waiting to see their favourite actor.
SeemThe washing seems to be done.
ManageCould you manage to make an appointment.
OfferMy employer offered me more vacation time.
ChooseYou can choose to leave if you want.
Can affordHenry can’t afford to go.
DemandI’m demanding you to leave at once!
PreparePlease, prepare to wait, there’s a long line.
ArrangeHe’ll arrange for you to arrive at 22:00.
DeserveJames doesn’t deserve to win the lottery.
ClaimAre you claiming to be a charlatan?
AppearMy bike doesn’t appear to be working.
IntendThey intend for you to have great success.
ExpectI don’t expect you to understand.
TendThey tend to have an absent mind.
Would preferThey’d prefer to come tonight.
RefuseYou guys can refuse to bail.
PretendDon’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
  • (2)  We use ‘to + infinitive’ after most Adjectives to give reason. (happy, difficult etc):
HappyMy wife and I are happy to give you this gift as a token of our appreciation.
DifficultThe way of the world can be difficult to master.
BigYou’re too big to challenge him.
NiceIt’s very nice to see you today.
KindIt’s very kind of you to do that.
MeanI was being mean in order to hurt them.
GratefulI was being grateful to encourage you.
ProudThey are proud to be my parents in law.
SurprisedThe locals were surprised to see me.
AnxiousI’m feeling anxious to wash the dishes.
PleasedThey are so pleased to meet us.
SadI’m sad to see you leave.
  • We use ‘to + infinitive’ to show purpose, see link to & for for full description on ‘to’ & ‘for’ for purpose.

I interviewed her to know what had happened.

I bought the vase to give to my mom.

Mary opened the door to see who was there.

We’re going to find the suspect to put him in jail.

I rang my mum to see how she was going.

You need to study a lot to pass your exam.

He turned the light on to see better.

Utilising the ‘to + infinitive’ construction can be a little tricky and It’s highly recommended that you read this article To & for that fully explains and elaborates on the usage of ‘to’ and ‘for’.

See also:

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