'To'-infinitive clauses

'To'-infinitive clauses
A `to'-infinitive clause is a subordinate clause beginning with a `to'-infinitive — that is, `to' and the base form of a verb.

She began to laugh.

Christopher and I went to see him.

I wanted to be popular.

\
A `to'-infinitive clause can include auxiliaries.

Only two are known to have defected.

I seem to have been eating all evening.

I didn't want to be caught off guard.

\
negative 'to'-infinitives
When you use `not' with a `to'-infinitive, you put `not' in front of the `to'.

I told him not to be late.

\
For information on the position of adverbs in relation to `to'-infinitives, see entry at ↑ Split infinitives.
\
linking 'to'-infinitive clauses
When two infinitives are linked by `and', `or', `rather than', or `than', the second infinitive can be used without `to'.

I told Dave to wait and watch.

I'd far prefer to drive than go by train.

\
after verbs
When a verb is followed by a `to'-infinitive clause, the subject of the verb is also the subject of the `to'-infinitive clause. The following verbs are often followed by a `to'-infinitive clause:
aim, appear, arrange, attempt, choose, decide, endeavour, expect, fail, forget, happen, hope, learn, long, manage, mean, need, neglect, opt, plan, prepare, pretend, prove, resolve, seek, seem, tend, venture, want, wish

They decided to wait.

England failed to win a place in the finals.

She seemed to like me.

\
Some verbs, such as `begin', `continue', and `prefer' can be followed by a `to'-infinitive or an `-ing' form.

Marcus began to scream.

They all began screaming.

See entry at ↑ '-ing' forms for a list of these verbs.
\
Sometimes you use a `to'-infinitive clause after the object of a verb. The object is the subject of the `to'-infinitive clause. The following verbs are often used with an object and a `to'-infinitive:
allow, cause, challenge, choose, compel, dare, defy, enable, expect, force, get, induce, inspire, intend, lead, like, mean, oblige, pay, permit, prefer, programme, prompt, teach, train, want, will

Higher productivity has enabled companies to earn higher profits.

...until ill health forced him to retire.

\
Note that `help' can be followed by a `to'-infinitive or an infinitive without `to'. See entry at ↑ help.
\
A `to'-infinitive clause is used after reporting verbs such as `advise', `persuade', and `promise'. See entry at ↑ Reporting.
\
after 'be'
In formal English, newspapers, and broadcasting, `to'-infinitive clauses are used after `be' to indicate that something is planned to happen.

After dinner they were to go to a movie.

A clean coal-fired power plant is to be built at Bilsthorpe Colliery.

\
You can also use a `to'-infinitive clause after `be' when specifying something such as a task, aim, or method.

Our job is to work out what the rules are.

Their aim is to help countries achieve an independent judiciary.

The simplest way is to smuggle the cash out of the country and invest it in tax havens.

\
You can also say that it is someone's job `to do something'.

It is my job to keep the players confident.

\
after 'be' in questions
A `to'-infinitive clause can be used in questions after `who' or `what' and `be' to ask what should happen or be done in a particular situation.

Who is to question him?

What is to be done with the wastelands of old industry?

\
For information on the use of `to'-infinitives in reported questions, see entry at ↑ Reporting.
\
as purpose clauses
People often use `to'-infinitive clauses to show the purpose of an action.

They locked the door to stop us from getting in.

He patted his breast pocket to make sure his wallet was in place.

\
For other ways of indicating purpose, see section on purpose clauses in entry at ↑ Subordinate clauses.
\
after adjectives
Some adjectives need to be followed by a `to'-infinitive clause to complete their meaning. For example, you cannot say `He is unable'. You have to say `He is unable to come', `He is unable to cope', etc.

They were unable to help her.

I am willing to try.

\
The following adjectives are usually or always followed by a `to'-infinitive clause:
able, bound, doomed, due, fated, fit, inclined, liable, likely, loath, prepared, unable, unwilling, willing
\
You can put a `to'-infinitive clause after other adjectives when you want to give information about the action that a feeling relates to.
afraid, anxious, ashamed, disappointed, frightened, glad, happy, pleased, proud, sad, surprised, unhappy

I was afraid to go home.

He was anxious to leave before it got dark.

They were terribly pleased to see you.

\
You use a `to'-infinitive clause after adjectives such as `easy' or `nice' when you want to say how easy, difficult, or pleasant it is to do something to a person or thing.

She had been easy to deceive.

The windows will be almost impossible to open.

They're quite nice to look at.

\
Note that you use a transitive verb or a verb followed by a preposition in this structure. The subject of the main clause is the object of the `to'-infinitive clause.
\
You can also use this structure with a complement consisting of a noun group.

They're a pleasure to have in the class.

\
You can use a `to'-infinitive clause after the following adjectives which describe someone, as a way of commenting on how sensible or right an action is.
crazy, foolish, mad, right, silly, stupid, wrong

Am I wrong to stay here?

I have been extremely stupid and foolish to leave it there tonight.

\
You can use `it' with a link verb and an adjective followed by a `to'-infinitive clause as a way of describing an experience or action.

It's nice to be made a fuss of!

It would be interesting to hear the Government explain this.

See also entry at ↑ it.
\
with 'too' and 'enough'
When you are using `too', you can use a `to'-infinitive clause to indicate the action that is not possible. Similarly, you can use a `to'-infinitive clause after `enough' to indicate the action that is possible.

He was too proud to apologise.

She spoke too quickly for me to understand.

He was old enough to understand.

I could see well enough to know we were losing.

\
after a noun group
You can use a `to'-infinitive clause after a noun group to indicate the aim or purpose of something.

We arranged a meeting to discuss the new rules.

\
You can also use a `to'-infinitive clause after a noun group to indicate that something needs to have something done to it, or can have something done to it.

I gave him several things to mend.

I have work to do.

He now had plenty to eat and clean clothes to wear.

\
You can also use a `to'-infinitive clause after a noun group that includes an ordinal number, a superlative, or a word like `next', `last', or `only'.

She was the first woman to be elected to the council.

Mr Holmes was the oldest person to be chosen.

The only person to speak was James.

\
A `to'-infinitive clause is used after some abstract nouns to indicate the action that they relate to.

All it takes is a willingness to learn.

He'd lost the ability to communicate with people.

\
The following abstract nouns are often followed by a `to'-infinitive clause:
ability, attempt, chance, desire, failure, inability, need, opportunity, unwillingness, willingness
\
used as subject
In formal writing and speech, a `to'-infinitive clause is sometimes used as the subject of a clause.

To impose these reforms on the trade union movement would be folly.

To enjoy mischief is surely a long way from being wicked.

\

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

Игры ⚽ Нужно сделать НИР?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • 'to'-infinitive clauses — ◊ GRAMMAR A to infinitive clause is a subordinate clause beginning with a to infinitive that is, to and the base form of a verb. She began to laugh. Christopher and I went to see him. I wanted to be popular. A to infinitive clause can include… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Infinitive — In grammar, infinitive is the name for certain verb forms that exist in many languages. In the usual (traditional) description of English, the infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to: therefore, do and to do, be and …   Wikipedia

  • Clauses — ◊ GRAMMAR A clause is a group of words containing a verb. A simple sentence has one clause. I waited. She married a young engineer. ◊ main clauses A compound sentence has two or more …   Useful english dictionary

  • clauses — ◊ GRAMMAR A clause is a group of words containing a verb. A simple sentence has one clause. I waited. She married a young engineer. ◊ main clauses A compound sentence has two or more …   Useful english dictionary

  • Subordinate clauses — ◊ GRAMMAR A subordinate clause is a clause which adds to or completes the information given in a main clause. Most subordinate clauses begin with a subordinating conjunction such as because , if , or that . Many subordinate clauses are adverbial… …   Useful english dictionary

  • subordinate clauses — ◊ GRAMMAR A subordinate clause is a clause which adds to or completes the information given in a main clause. Most subordinate clauses begin with a subordinating conjunction such as because , if , or that . Many subordinate clauses are adverbial… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Split infinitive — A split infinitive is an English language grammatical construction in which a word or phrase, usually an adverb or adverbial phrase, comes between the marker to and the bare infinitive (uninflected) form of a verb. For example, a split infinitive …   Wikipedia

  • Accusative and infinitive — In grammar, accusative and infinitive is the name for a syntactic construction of Latin and Greek, also found in various forms in other languages such as English and Spanish. In this construction, the subject of a subordinate clause is put in the …   Wikipedia

  • 'Wh'-clauses — ◊ GRAMMAR A wh clause is a clause beginning with a wh word such as who or what , or with whether . Wh clauses are used to refer to matters that are uncertain or about which a choice has to be made. Wh clauses are used after some verbs referring… …   Useful english dictionary

  • 'wh'-clauses — ◊ GRAMMAR A wh clause is a clause beginning with a wh word such as who or what , or with whether . Wh clauses are used to refer to matters that are uncertain or about which a choice has to be made. Wh clauses are used after some verbs referring… …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”