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Published on July 19th, 2012 In category English

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Sentence pattern with infinitives in basic English grammar

As promised I would be discussing certain sentence pattern seen with infinitives. These are as follows 

  • Adjective/adverb +enough +infinitive. For example:

He is old enough to understand.
He is clever enough to cheat you.
The salesman was smart enough to sell the product.
She is beautiful enough to do modelling.

  • Adjective +of you/him/her +infinitive , in the given sentence construction infinitive with ‘to’ is used. For example:

It is good of you to inform me.
It is brave of him to face the enemy.
It was nice of her to help me.

  • Verb +object +infinitive. There are certain verbs which follow the given rule, the list is as follows:

Order- The commander ordered them to move on.
Tell- The teacher told me to go there.
Show-I showed them how to write an essay.
Invite-He invited all his friends to party.
Compel- He compelled them to finish the task.
Permit- Mom permitted us to go for movie.
Teach-I taught them to write in French.
Instruct- He instructed me not to touch the switch.
Warn-He warned us not to move up hill in bad weather.
Encourage- The leader encouraged us to carry on the task.
Request- I requested them to consider my leave application.
Likewise there are some more verbs which follow the same pattern;
urge,advise,tempt,remind,forbid,allow etc.

  • The list of verbs which are always followed by infinitive is as follows:

Learn- We learn to get proficiency in the subject.
Remember-Please remember to bring your assignment tomorrow.
Forget- I forgot to wish him happy b’day.
Promise-We promise to do it soon.
Endeavour- We endeavour to help everyone.
Hesitate-Please hesitate to ask help.
Swear- I swear not to help antisocial people in any case.
Consent-I gave consent to land agreement.
Neglect- She neglected to care her child in sickness.
Refuse-She refused to sign the company policy.
Propose- He proposed to marry her.
Attempt-All my attempt to save her failed.
Fail- She failed to achieve the target.
Hate-Now I hate to smoke.
Prepared- Students prepared to appear for the competition.
Try-I tried to call her.

Decide- I decided to run the Marathon this time.
Determine-I am determined to clear IAS exams this time.
Manage-I managed to finish the project before deadline.
Seem- He seems to be an intelligent boy.
Agree-Tom agreed to make an arrangement for the tea party.
Regret- Lucy regretted to jump from the train.  I regert to inform you of unsuccessful attempt.

Note: You might have noted that Gerunds as well as infinitives both can be used as subject/complement of a sentence. However, Gerunds sounds more normal in spoken English and in 90% of the time they are used as subject /complement. Infinitives are more used in abstracts to show the possibility/potential of something.

For example: Eating is important. (Gerund, Common spoken English)
To eat is important.( Abstract subject-less common)
The most important thing is eating. (Normal complement)
The most important thing is to eat. (Abstract complement)

Note: The main verb in the sentence determines whether Gerund/Infinitive would be used as an object in the sentence. Normally they are not interchangeable.
For example:
He enjoys swimming.
He wants to swim.

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  1. stanleyjohn says:

    The following sentences need to be corrected.
    1. Hesitate-Please hesitate to ask help.
    Please do not hesitate to ask help

    2. Regret- Lucy regretted to jump from the train.
    Lucy regretted jumping from the train.
    I regret to inform you….

    1. Mamta says:

      Thanks Stanley. I agree the sentence is not gramatically correct. However,
      “Lucy regretted jumping from the train” – This will be an example of Gerund.

      I have changed the example, that seems to be correct.