Easy Learning

The to infinitive - Easy Learning Grammar

The to infinitive is used as follows:
  • after an adjective of quality such as small, tall, agreeable, pleasant, funny that is used in combination with too.
  • The child was too small to reach the switch.
  • The knife was too blunt to cut the string.
or (not) + adjective of quality + enough.
  • The child was not tall enough to reach the switch.
  • The knife was not sharp enough to cut the string.
  • I was stupid enough to go walking in flip flops.
  • after adjectives of emotion such as: angry, happy, glad, sad, sorry, surprised, to express the reason for the emotion.
  • I’m glad to see you.
  • I’m sorry to hear your news.
  • after a ‘behaviour’ adjective such as: good, kind, nice, silly, wrong, (sometimes + of + another noun phrase).
  • It was good of you to come, and kind of Jane to have sent those flowers.
  • It was silly to go off like that.
  • It was kind of you to ring me.
  • after a WH- word such as: how, what, where, whether, which, who, whom.
  • We have no idea what to get for Tim’s birthday.
  • I don’t know where to go.
  • I can’t think how to do it.
  • They were wondering who to see first.
  • after a noun phrase such as a good idea, a good thing, a mistake (sometimes + for + another noun phrase).
  • It was a mistake for Jim to buy that motorbike.
  • It was a good idea to stop here.
  • after an adjective such as easy, difficult, hard, impossible + for + noun phrase.
  • It has never been easy for David to sit exams.
  • after a verb followed by for, e.g. ask, wait + for + noun phrase.
  • They are waiting for us to decide.
  • The to infinitive can be used to express purpose or necessity after a verb followed by a pronoun or a noun.purpose: I brought it to read on the train = so that I could read it.
    necessity: There is work to do! = work that must be done.
Sometimes the particle to can be used alone, provided the meaning is clear, for example in a short response, when the whole verb form is used in a previous sentence or clause.
  • Did you meet Tina? No, I wanted to, but she was ill.
  • Are you going to visit the museum? Yes, we hope to.

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