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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
Want Did they really want to jet ski?
Learn You must learn to behave.
Plan She’s planning to take a Spanish course.
Hope David hopes to become an astronaut.
Decide Don’t decide to leave so soon, please.
Help Can you help me to solve this?
Promise Our clients promised to make a deal with us.
Would like He wouldn’t like to come with us.
Decide We’ve decided to try.
Agree Don’t agree to stay if you don’t want to.
Ask I’m asking you to do it for me.
Would love She’d love to join in.
Would hate I’d hate to know.
Wait They’ve been waiting to see their favourite actor.
Seem The washing seems to be done.
Manage Could you manage to make an appointment.
Offer My employer offered me more vacation time.
Choose You can choose to leave if you want.
Can afford Henry can’t afford to go.
Demand I’m demanding you to leave at once!
Prepare Please, prepare to wait, there’s a long line.
Arrange He’ll arrange for you to arrive at 22:00.
Deserve James doesn’t deserve to win the lottery.
Claim Are you claiming to be a charlatan?
Appear My bike doesn’t appear to be working.
Intend They intend for you to have great success.
Expect I don’t expect you to understand.
Tend They tend to have an absent mind.
Would prefer They’d prefer to come tonight.
Refuse You guys can refuse to bail.
Pretend Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
      • (2)  We use ‘to + infinitive’ after most Adjectives to give reason. (happy, difficult etc):
      Happy My wife and I are happy to give you this gift as a token of our appreciation.
      Difficult The way of the world can be difficult to master.
      Big You’re too big to challenge him.
      Nice It’s very nice to see you today.
      Kind It’s very kind of you to do that.
      Mean I was being mean in order to hurt them.
      Grateful I was being grateful to encourage you.
      Proud They are proud to be my parents in law.
      Surprised The locals were surprised to see me.
      Anxious I’m feeling anxious to wash the dishes.
      Pleased They are so pleased to meet us.
      Sad I’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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