Unit 52. Verb + infinitive


agree offer decide appear forget need
refuse attempt plan seem learn (how) mean
promise manage arrange pretend dare intend
threaten fail hope afford tend

If these verbs are followed by another verb, the structure is usually verb + infinitive:

  • It was late, so we decided to take a taxi home.

  • I like George, but I think he tends to talk too much.

  • How old were you when you learned to drive? (or learned how to drive)

  • They agreed to lend me some money when I told them the position I was in.

  • He’s lazy. He needs to work harder.

  • I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. Note these examples with the negative not to…:

  • We decided not to go out because of the weather.

  • She pretended not to see me as she passed me on the street. With other important verbs you cannot use the infinitive. For example think and suggest:

  • Are you thinking of buying a car? (not thinking to buy)

  • Jill suggested going to the movies (not suggested to go)

    There is a continuous infinitive (to be doing) and a perfect infinitive (to have done). We use these especially after seem, appear, and pretend:

  • I pretended to be reading. (= I pretended that I was reading)

  • You seem to have lost weight. (= it seems that you have lost weight)

  • He appears to be doing a good job. (= it appears that he is doing a good

    C. Dare: You can say dare to do or dare do (without to):

  • I wouldn’t dare to ask him. or I wouldn’t dare ask him.

    After the following verbs you can use a question word (what/where/how, etc.) + infinitive:
    ask decide know remember forget explain understand

    We asked how to get to the station.
    Have you decided where to go for your vacation?
    Tom explained (to me) how to change the tire on the car.
    I don’t know whether to go to the party or not.

    Also: show/tell/ask someone what/how/where to do something:

  • Can someone show me how to change the film in this camera?

  • Ask Jack. He’ll tell you what to do.

    For verbs + infinitive see also Units 53-55.

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