Infinitives

Part 1

An infinitive is a verb combined with the word to. Most often, an infinitive acts as a noun in the sentence. Less frequently, it acts as an adjective or an adverb.

  • I want to go home early today.
  • I hope to be chosen as a member.
  • I prefer to go there earlier.
  • You need to consider various rules in writing sentences.
  • You have to explain your reasoning in detail.
  • You might wish to act as a teacher.
  • To leave for a vacation is my only wish at this time.
  • A common mistake in a relationship is not to trust the other person.
  • Help me to save the trees!
  • To be mentally healthy, you must read books.
  • Do you want me to fill out this form?
  • Here is our to-do list.
  • It was nice to meet you.
  • It is time to move on.
  • I am young enough to change my habits.
  • Don’t forget not to make grammar mistakes.
  • You are required to leave all your belongings here.
  • I came to see a doctor today.
  • You have to work harder to succeed.
  • I need to take three more classes to finish my graduate study.
  • I got closer to the speaker to listen clearly.
  • Be sure to check if you have tickets.
  • I am going to buy the new computer.

Generally, it is not common to split to and the verb except for when you want to emphasize the verb.

  • I want you to immediately stop doing that.
  • You have to seriously work hard to succeed.
  • You need to definitely explain your reasoning in detail.

Part 2

Commonly, an infinitive is used with the subject it. The sentence structure is “It is                     + infinitive.…” It refers to the infinitive. This expression is used in many ways.

  • It is time to do math.
  • It is common to think that way.
  • It is appropriate to keep a low profile.
  • It was nice to see you.
  • It was my pleasure to meet you.
  • It was my honor to have dinner with you.
  • It is good to see you.
  • It was great to go on a trip with them.

Both gerunds and infinitive phrases can function as nouns, in a variety of ways. Gerunds and infinitives can follow certain verbs but not others. You need to remember which verbs can be followed by only a gerund or only an infinitive.

Verbs that can precede only gerunds:
consider, suggest, enjoy, deny, avoid, miss, mind, practice, postpone, resist, finish, quit, give up, put off

Verbs that can precede only infinitives:
offer, decide, hope, attempt, promise, agree, afford, deserve, refuse, undertake, learn, fail, seem, appear, tend, pretend, choose, demand, desire, guarantee, claim, manage, determine, expect, want, wish

Verbs that can precede either gerunds or infinitives without changing meanings: 

continue, like, love, begin, start, propose, neglect, stand, hate

Verbs that can precede either gerunds or infinitives but change meanings:

forget, remember, stop, try

  • I stopped watching the movie. (I no longer watched the movie.)
  • I stopped to watch the movie. (I stopped what I was doing to watch the movie.)