Infinitives: Grammar Rules to Master the Use of Infinitives

Learn how to use Infinitives in English with rules and examples.

What is a To-Infinitive?

A to-infinitive is a verbal consisting of to + a verb, and it acts like a subject, direct object, subject complement, adjective, or adverb in a sentence. Infinitives are easy to identify because they’re written with to + a verb.

Example:

To give

To run

To wait

Although an infinitive is easy to locate because of the to + verb form, deciding what function it has in a sentence can sometimes be confusing.

Functions of Infinitives

We use the infinitive:

To indicate the purpose of an action

Example:

He bought some flowers to give to his wife.

I will lock the door to prevent theft.

As subject of the sentence

Example:

To wait seemed foolish when decisive action was required.

To swim in that sea may be dangerous.

As direct object of the sentence

Example:

I like to write in English.

Everyone wanted to go.

As subject complement

Example:

His ambition is to fly.

What is essential is to maintain a healthy diet.

As an adjective

Example:

This is the best time to practice.

I have some jeans to wash.

As an adverb

Example:

We must carefully observe to understand.

I can’t wait to see.

After adjective

Subject + to be + adjective + (for/of someone) + to-infinitive + (rest of sentence)

Example:

It is important to be patient.

It is wonderful to have close friends.

After object that is noun or pronoun referring to a person

Example:

Can I ask you to help me with something?

I invited a friend to attend the ceremony.

Used with question word

Example:

Do you understand what to do?

Tell me when to press the button.

Grammar Rules to Master the Use of Infinitives | Picture

Grammar Rules to Master the Use of Infinitives

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