This post looks at using the English infinitive with to. It is used after certain adjectives and verbs.
The first to do something.
He was the first to arrive at the party.
The next to do something.
Sam was the next to arrive.
The last to do something.
Tom and Mary were the last to arrive.
We can also put a noun before the infinitive if we are talking about sequencing (putting something into numerical order e.g. first, second, third etc)
Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.
Will the last person to leave the room, please turn off the lights?
They were the second team to enter the competition.
We use infinitive with to after want and would like.
I want to see that new French film that is on at the cinema.
Would you like to come with me?
I would like to book a table for four at seven o’clock, please.
Jack had to leave work early today because he had a doctor’s appointment.
After some question words.
I don’t know where to go on holiday this year.
She wanted to know how to get to the station.
When he offered me the job, I didn’t know what to say.
The kids can be so noisy. They never know when to stop.
- After certain verbs (usually verbs of thinking and feeling. Below is a table of some of the most common verbs).
|Agree||Do you agree to help us?|
|Arrange||I want to arrange a meeting to discuss the new computer system.|
|Decide||I have decided to take the job in New York.|
|Expect||I expected to meet the manager today but he’s ill.|
|Forget||Don’t forget to feed my cat whilst I’m on holiday.|
|Hope||I hope to see you again very soon.|
|Intend||She intends to start her own company.|
|Learn||Peter had always wanted to learn to play the piano.|
|Like||John likes to sing in the shower.|
|Love||We love to go on walking holidays in the mountains.|
|Manage||I managed to finish the work before my boss returned.|
|Plan||We plan to visit my parents at the weekend.|
|Prefer||I prefer to play tennis.|
|Promise||I promise to visit again soon.|
|Refuse||I refuse to listen to your lies.|
|Remember||Could you remember to close the door when you leave?|
|Tend||She tends to talk too much because she’s nervous.|
|Try||Can you try to be more quiet, please. I’m trying to work.|
I’m pleased to meet you.
She was sad to see him go.
They were excited to be in the Olympic team.
I would love to eat some chocolate but I’m on a diet at the moment.
Verb + object + to infinitive
I need you to look after the kids while I go the doctor.
We took my parents to see the new Star Wars film.
He wants you to help him paint the kitchen.
Traditionally, grammar experts said you must not split the infinitive. This means to put a word between ‘to’ and the ‘verb’ as in Star Trek’s famous line, ‘To boldly go..’ Strict rules say it should read ‘To go boldly..’ Although, in everyday English, speakers often split the infinitive. It might be a good idea to avoid doing this in formal writing, however.