On this page, we will learn about infinitives, What is an infinitive? How are they used? Common Verbs Before Infinitives, Verbs Commonly Followed by an Infinitive.

What is infinitive?

A verbal consisting of the word that functions as a noun, adjective, or adverb is known as an infinitive. It is composed of the word "to" plus a "verb" (in its most basic "stem" form). An infinitive, like the other two types of verbal, is based on a verb and hence communicates action or a state of being, as indicated by the term "verbal."


(To + verb) results in an infinitive.

When using English more generally or for your IELTS speaking and writing, it's crucial that you can utilize them correctly.

Gerunds, which are verbs with a -ing ending, have already been discussed (which makes them nouns).

Look at the following sentence. Blue color is used to identify the infinitives.

I enrolled in a writing class at a local college in order to raise my IELTS score. I checked my grammar to make sure it was as perfect as it could be. Some challenging grammar concepts were made clear to me by the teachers. Even if it's impossible to learn everything in a short period of time, I made a lot of progress and I sincerely appreciate everything they did. It was really good of you to assist me in this way.

These are all put to use in various ways. We'll look at them in more detail in this lesson.

The Grammar

The verb does not require a tense because it is in the infinitive form. It is the verb in its most basic form, but with the prefix "to."

Here are a few instances:

  • to go
  • to see
  • to wait
  • to manipulate
  • to consider
  • to amend

Thinking of it as a finite verb is a typical error in writing (a verb that has a subject and takes a tense). It doesn't alter its form.

Here is an illustration of a typical infinitive error:

It took us four hours to reached the target.

The past tense of the infinitive verb, reach, has been made. A tense can only be assigned to the primary verb (take in this instance).

The proper format is as follows:

It took us four hours to reach the target.

How are they used?

Some of their typical uses are explained in the table below. A few tables with examples are presented after this.

As direct objects
An infinitive is positioned after the verb when it is being used as a direct object:

We wanted to make sure that our IELTS writing was as good as it could be.

He decided to study abroad, but his father is refusing to wage.
To show purpose
They are occasionally used to shorten the word "in order to".

In order to improve his IELTS writing score, he joined a writing class at a university in our city.

To improve his IELTS writing score, he joined a writing class at a university in our city.

I joined the gym in order to keep me fit.

I joined the gym to keep me fit.
As a subject
To assist us like this was very noble.

To get involved in volunteer work is an honorable endeavor.

However, take note that the gerund is considerably more frequently used in these structures:

Assisting us like this was very noble.

Getting involved in volunteer work is an honorable endeavor.

If an infinitive does appear at the start of a sentence, it is considerably more likely to be used to indicate purpose, as in replacing in order to.
With phrases beginning with 'it' (it + be + infinitive)
It is not possible to be ideal in a short time period.

(Adjective + Infinitive)

It could be a blunder to leave your job.

(Noun + Infinitive)
With the verb 'take' (it + take + noun + infinitive)
It took us four hours to reach the target.

It takes a lot of attention to memorize this theory.
After certain adjectives
My father was shocked to see my result.

We were so careful not to talk too loudly.

Common Verbs before infinitives

The second verb must be an infinitive, gerund, or both if you want to combine two verbs.

You cannot say, for instance,

We hoped see them again.

She hoped seeing us again.

Another verb must be an infinitive if "hope" is followed by it:

We hoped to see them again.

Keep in mind that some verbs can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive, depending on the context. For instance:

I like to eat. (verb + infinitive)


I like eating. (Verb + gerund)

Learn more about gerunds in this lesson or when to use the gerund and infinitive by clicking the link.

The following verbs, which are not gerunds, are frequently followed by an infinitive:

Verbs Commonly Followed by an Infinitive

afford He can't afford to wage for the IELTS exam.
agree My teacher agreed to postpone my exam.
appear Obesity appears to be getting worse in children.
ask I asked her to go with us.
claim He claimed to have the answers to the questions.
decide My father and mother decided to move house next month.
demand He demands to see the administrator!
deserve He didn't deserve to get a 7 as he didn’t study much.
expect I expected to attain a band 6 but I got a 5.5.
fail She failed to win the game, but she came third.
forget My mother forgot to make the note out last night.
hesitate We wouldn't hesitate to assist a friend in need.
hope We hope to depart by 7am.
intend The judiciary intends to hold a vote in July.
learn I've learnt to make cappuccino.
manage He managed to change his doctors meeting.
mean Sorry, I didn't mean to wake up so late.
need You need to get a band 7 to get into top ranked universities.
offer He offered to drive me to the post-office.
plan We planned to emigrate to the UK last year.
prepare She's prepared to risk her property by investing in crypto-currency.
pretend The girl pretended to be a makeover.
promise The army lieutenant promised to stage a coup.
refuse She is refusing to grasp the medicine.
seem He seemed to be perfect yesterday, but now he is worse.
tend She tends to follow this theory to solve her problems.
threaten They threatened to attack their neighbor.
wait We can't wait to go to Italy.
want The English teacher wanted the students to fail.

You can see some examples of how adjectives and nouns are frequently used with the infinitive in the tables below.

Common adjectives preceded by it + be and followed by infinitive

bad It is bad to back-bite others.
agree My teacher agreed to postpone my exam.
dangerous It is dangerous to cross hilly roads.
difficult It is difficult to pass the IELTS reading test.
easy It is very easy to forget important grammar rules in exams.
fun It wasn't always fun to learn Isolated mathematics.
hard It is always hard to stay focused on your aims in life.
important It is important to trust yourself.
impossible It will be impossible for the school fund to help every student.
interesting It is interesting to know about other countries.
necessary It is necessary sometimes to alter your plans.
relaxing It is relaxing to dance in the rain.

Common nouns preceded by it + be and followed by infinitive

a good idea It wasn't a good idea to sleep late at night.
a bad idea It is a bad idea to spend more money on a holiday.
a mistake It isn’t a mistake to say much in the IELTS speaking test.
a pity It will be a pity to leave so late.
a shame It was a shame to fail the test.
a waste It was a waste to throw the clothes away.

Common adjectives followed by infinitives

ashamed He’s ashamed to admit that he stole the ring.
bound She is bound (certain) to come late - she always does.
careful The mother is careful not to wake up the baby.
excited We’re excited to join the local cricket team.
glad We’re glad to know that she is feeling better.
happy The owner was happy to deduct the price of the store.
lucky I'm lucky to have you all as my friends.
pleased The doctor is pleased to know she is well now.
proud He was proud to be joined by his father.
relieved The cops were relieved to catch the thief at last.
reluctant He’s reluctant to take the IELTS exam again.
sad She is sad to see me leave.
shocked We are shocked to find out you had been fired.
sorry I'll be sorry to see you leave.
surprised I was surprised to hear she is 46 years old.
sure She's sure to win the race.
willing I'm willing to bet he cannot get a high IELTS score.