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.


What Are To-infinitives?

To-infinitives are bare infinitives that are preceded by the preposition 'to.' For example, play is a bare infinitive and to play is considered a to-infinitive. To-infinitives are used in many cases.

Why Do We Use Bare-infinitives?

To-infinitives are widely used to express necessity and purpose. Follow the article to find out where and how do we use them.

Using To-infinitives

To-infinitives can be used as:

  • nominal
  • adverbial
  • adjectival

Nominal Infinitives

Nominal to-infinitives can be used as subjects, objects of prepositions, and direct objects. Here are the examples.

To complain wouldn't seem fair. →subject

I wanted to buy a new car. → direct object

Using To-infinitive as Subject

To-infinitives can be used at the beginning of the sentence as the subject of the sentence. Here are the examples.

To cook is an enjoyable hobby for me.

To study looked really hard for him.

Using To-infinitives as direct Objects

After the transitive verbs, you can also use a to-infinitive as the direct object. Check out the examples to learn them better.

I wanted to drink soda but he ordered fizzy pop.

They liked to share as a perfect couple.

Using To-infinitive as Object of Preposition

We can use a to-infinitive after the preposition as the object of preposition. Here are the examples.

I am about to be graduated.

They couldn't do anything but to wait.

using to-infinitives as the subject

Adverbial Infinitives

Adverbial to-infinitives are used to describe an adjectives , adverbs, or main verbs. Here are a few examples.

It was stupid to talk to you again. → adverbial describing the adjective

The plumber came to fix the sink. → adverbial describing the verb

Adjectival Infinitives

Sometimes to-infinitives can be used to modify a noun. So, they are used as adjectives. Here are a few examples.

That was not a story to be remembered.

The movie is perfectly to watch, I recommend it strongly.

Different Forms of To-infinitives

There are different formations of to-infinitives. Check out the list.

Perfect To-infinitives

A perfect to-infinitive implies a past meaning. The general structure is [to have + past participle]. Here are a few examples.

She is said to have been a good nurse back then.

In this example, "she was a good nurse in the past, maybe she is retired now."

Peter is known to have stepped on the moon.

Perfect Continuous To-infinitive

Perfect continuous to-infinitives follow a verb and are considered as a preceding event. It shows that the action is in progress as well. The structure is [have + been + present participle] Here are the examples.

I am glad to have been talking to such a great person.

You seem to have been training for five years by then. I am sure you will win.

Continuous To-infinitives

Using continuous to-infinitives means that the verb concurs with the one in continuous to-infinitive form. The structure is [to be + present participle]. For example:

I am happy to be sitting next to you, at the time.

They seemed to be drinking and having fun.

Passive To-infinitives

We can use to-infinitives in passive form by using the verb to be in different tenses followed by a past participle. Here are a few examples.

The man is to be killed.

They wanted to have been behaved properly.

Using To-infinitives in Special Structures

We can use to-infinitives to express special concepts. Follow the article.

Be to Do Something

This structure uses the to-infinitive to express activities that somebody is going to do. Here are the examples.

They were to vote for the president.

I was to leave you but I couldn't.

With catenative Verbs

Usually, to make a chain of verbs, you have to add them to each other by using to-infinitives and the to-infinitive is considered the direct object of the catenative verb. Here are the examples.

We decided to adopt a child.

The kids like to dance all day.

Elliptical Questions

To-infinitives can be used after interrogative words to make elliptical questions. Check out the examples for more clarification.

They don't know where to play.

Tell me how to find a solution.


To-infinitive verbs can be used in the following forms;

  • simple
  • continuous
  • perfect
  • perfect continuous


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Infinitives are used in many structures, especially after catenative verbs. Follow the article to learn them.

Bare Infinitives

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

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.

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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