Infinitive Clauses

To learn infinitive clauses, first of all, you should know the elements in a cause and the definition of an infinitive. In this lesson, we will learn them.

"Infinitive Clauses" in the English Grammar

What Are Infinitive Clauses?

Infinitive clauses (also called to-infinitive or infinitival clauses) are a group of words that contain an infinitive (to + base form of verbs) as its main verb form.

Infinitive Clauses: Types

There are two types of infinitive clauses:

  • To infinitives
  • Bare infinitives

To Infinitives

We have divided the “to infinitives” into the following groups:

  • Basic
  • Perfect
  • Perfect continuous (progressive)
  • Passive


Any subordinate clause whose verb is in "to-infinitive" form is a to-infinitive clause. Let's see some examples:

If you want to make me happy, buy me flowers.

to play, the children need a room.


To make a perfect form with infinitives we can use the following structure:
to+ have + past participle
We use this structure to show something has happened in the time preceding.

The boy was lucky to have passed these tests before.

Perfect Continuous

To form perfect continuous we can use this structure:
To + have + been + V-ing
We use this structure to emphasize duration.

She was too skinny to have been eating all these foods.


If a passive finite verb clause comes with an infinitive, it will be a passive infinitive clause by itself

I expect that all the rooms will be cleaned before the guests arrive.

passive finite verb

I expect all the rooms to be cleaned before the guests arrive.

passive infinitive

the Bare Infinitive

Normally, an infinitive has the preposition 'to,' but it is not an essential part of it. When an infinitive is used without the preposition 'to' it is called a bare infinitive.

I made John leave.

Help me open the door.

Infinitive Clauses: Functions

An infinitive clause often acts as the subject or object or complement of the main clause.

Infinitive Clauses as Subjects

An infinitive clause can be the subject of a sentence. After the infinitive clause, there is the verb 'be' or other state verbs.

To swim after a meal is always wrong.

To leave the building unlocked would seem foolish.


The above sentences might sound too formal. It is more common to express these sentences using 'it' or a participle clause.

Swimming after a meal is wrong.

It is wrong to swim after a meal.

Infinitive Clauses as Objects

using an infinitive clause in a sentence

An infinitive clause can be the object of a sentence. Many verbs can be followed by an infinitive clause in the place of the direct object.

I have decided to go to Iran for my holidays.

Remember to take your lunchbox to school.

Try to control your anger.

Infinitive Clauses as Object Complements

An infinitive or infinitive clause acts as an object complement by describing the intended or desired action of the direct object. For example:

Janet's father wants her to go to Harvard.

He asked me to help him.

Infinitive Clauses as Subject Complements

An infinitive clause can be a subject complement after the verb 'be' or other linking verbs.

My advice is to consult a lawyer at once.

Her decision was to quit her job in three months.

The Infinitive of Purpose

Sometimes, we use noun + infinitive clause to express the purpose of that noun. In this pattern, the to-infinitive follows a noun or pronoun.

Do you have a credit card to pay for all this?

I'd like something to eat for lunch.

The Infinitive of Reason

We can also use infinitive clauses to explain 'why' we do something. In this case, 'to' has the same meaning as 'in order to' or 'so as to.'

He checked his voicemail to see who has called.

He went home early to watch her favorite show.

Infinitive Clauses with Question Words

The verbs 'ask, decide, explain, forget, know, show, tell, and understand' can be followed by a question word such as where, how, what, who, and when + the infinitive clause.

My mom asked me how to use the computer.

I'll tell you when to start the process.

He's forgotten where to look for his suitcase.

Infinitive Clauses with Adjectives

Sometimes, an infinitive clause is followed immediately after an adjective. Normally, the structure of the sentence would be like this:
subject + to be + adjective + (for/of someone) + infinitive clause + (rest of sentence)

It is important for the doctor to explain the procedure to the patient.

He is disappointed to end up here.

Infinitive Clauses with Adverbs

Infinitive clauses can also be used with the adverbs 'too' and 'enough' in order to show us the reason behind an action. The pattern is:

'too/enough' + the adjective, adverb, or noun + the infinitive
the adjective, adverb, or noun + 'too/enough' + the infinitive

We can easily remove the infinitive and the sentence would still function grammatically.

There is too much salt to put in this soup.

She's old enough to date whomever she deems suitable.


The prepositional phrase that comes before an infinitive clause is not the subject, it is the complement of a prepositional phrase. take a look at some examples:

For them to host a party is entertaining.

For= prepososition, Them=object of a preposition, To host a ... =complement

For me to speak three languages well would be amazing.


Infinitive clauses are made of an infinitive. Infinitives can be bare infinirtive or to-infinitive. Infinitive clauses are used as:

  • Object
  • object complement
  • subject complement


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To-infinitives are the base form of the verbs preceded by the preposition 'to'. To-infinitives are used in many conditions. In this lesson, we will learn them.

Bare Infinitives

The word 'bare' means without the addition of something. So you can easily get the meaning of a bare infinitive.

Dangling Modifiers

Who did this? Can't you find the subject? It's probably the dangling modifiers' work! Let's see what are they.

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