How do you use the TO infinitive in English?

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Infinitive = [to + base verb]
Verb + to + infinitive

We use the to infinitive after certain verbs.
e.g., want, promise, agree, decide, like.
I like to go to school on foot.

When to use an infinitive?

Infinitives can be used to express the reason of an action.

  • I worked to make money. (WHY?)
  • He came to study. (WHY?)
  • I go to the library to read.
  • You go to the gym to work out.
  • Why do we use YouTube?       We use YouTube to study English.
  • Why do we use Facebook?    We use Facebook to meet people.

Infinitives can be use as subjects

  • To do the right thing is not easy.
  • To learn a new language is helpful.
  • To run a business is not a child’s play.

Infinitives can be use as objects

  • I want to help you.
  • We love to read.

Infinitives can be use as subject complement

  • His job is to assist you.
  • My dream is to open a special business.

To Infinitives can be use Adverbs

  • We must study to learn.
  • I want to learn to be a developer.

Common verbs followed by the to infinitive

Want. like. agree.  choose.  plan.  decide. expect.  Try. love.  hope.  expect.  Offer. forget.  Need. promise.  hate.  Refuse. Learn. Hope. Need. Mean. remember.  would like.  would love.  would prefer.  would hate.

Examples of to infinitive

  • I hate to be late.
  • It started to rain.
  • I like to sleep early.
  • I want to break free.
  • I prefer to travel by car.
  • I love to travel in spring.
  • Do you like to get up early?
  • I would love to go to Brazil.
  • I’m tired. I want to go to bed.
  • Amy would like to meet you.
  • My brother is learning to drive.
  • What have you decided to do?
  • Bye! I hope to see you again soon.
  • Are you waiting to see the doctor?
  • Tamara has decided to sell her car.
  • I went to the shop to get a newspaper.
  • We need some money to buy food.
  • I haven’t got time to watch television.
  • I’m trying to work Please stop talking.
  • I hate to study the day before the exam.
  • What do you want to do this evening?
  • I tried to read my book, but I was too tired.
  • They’re going to Brazil to see their friends.
  • Why are you going out? To buy some food.
  • I like this apartment. I wouldn’t like to move.
  • I learnt to swim when I was five years old.
  • Where’s Sally? I need to ask her something.
  • Dan was angry and refused to speak to me.
  • Amy had a lot to do, so I offered to help her.
  • It’s not very late. We don’t need to go home yet.
  • You forgot to switch off the light when you went out.
  • I would like to go to Saudi Arabia to learn Arabic.
  • Sue turned on the television to watch the news.
  • Catherine went to the station to meet her friend.
  • I live in a small village. I would hate to live in a big city.
  • I’m surprised that you’re here. I didn’t expect to see you.
  • This ring was my grandmother’s. I’d hate to lose it.
  • Where are the students? They promised to be here on time.
  • Have you ever been to Australia? No, but I would love to go.
  • Would you like to sit down? No, I would prefer to stand, thank you.
  • I went there to get a book, I often go there to look at their new books.

Examples of want you / told you – to infinitive:

  • I want you to be happy.
  • I want you to meet Sarah.
  • She asked me to help her.
  • Paul let me use his phone.
  • I want you to listen carefully.
  • I don’t want you to be angry.
  • I advised him to go to the doctor.
  • Do you want me to wait for you?
  • I don’t want you to call me tonight.
  • I told him to come back in ten minutes.
  • Amy’s mother taught her to play the piano.
  • Do you want me to lend you some money?
  • A woman told me to turn left after the bridge.
  • They didn’t want anybody to know their secret.
  • I told her not to phone before 8 o’clock. / … not to call me before 8 o’clock.


make and let

After make and let, we do not use to

  • He’s very funny. He makes me laugh. (We don’t say: makes me to laugh).
  • At school our teacher made us work very hard. (We don’t say: made us to work very hard).
  • I didn’t have my phone with me, so Sue let me use hers. (we don’t say: let me to use).

Question form of to infinitive

(these examples are from grammar practice elementary 3rd edition)

A: Why did you lend Sami your laptop?
B: He asked to borrow it. He needed it for his project.

A: What time do we need to be there?
B: At about eight o’clock.

A: Congratulations!
B: Thanks! I didn’t expect to pass my test at all.

A: Are you going now?
B: Yes. I promised to meet Laura in town at six.

A: How are you getting to the station?
B: Ben’s offered to take me in his car.

A: Did you agree to organize the party?
B: Yes. Amir and I are going to do it.

A: Have you got your photos?
B: Oh no! I forgot to bring them.

A: Is Jess coming?
B: No, she doesn’t want to go out tonight.

A: I learned to drive when I was eighteen.
B: Have you got a car?

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