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Grammar

The use of infinitives & verbs with ending “ing” – part 3

Level: B2

INFINITIVE WITH “TO”

THE FIRST TO GO

Infinitive usually stands after ordinal numerals and other consecution’s appellatives:

If I have any news, you ‘ll be the first to know
The last student to leave the classroom should close the door.

INFINITIVE AFTER INTERROGATIVE WORDS

Infinitive also appears after interrogative word preceded by a verb “to”:

She didn’t know how to operate the machine.
Do you understand what to do?
He showed her where to put the boxes.

Verbs after which we put interrogative word + infinitive with “to”

This type of sentences can have different meanings. It depends on whether after the verb there will be an infinitive or an infinitive with the interrogative pronoun:

decide to do it.
decided how to do it.

They mainly concern primarily to knowledge, discovery, learning, understanding, as well as thinking and meditating.

INFINITIVE AFTER ADJECTIVES FOR PROBABILITY

After adjectives expressing probability an infinitive stand as well.
This type of adjectives includes: likely, sure, certain, bound.

If you keep working like that, you’re bound to fail the exam.
Don’t expect too much of her. She’s not likely to change.

“TO” INFINITIVE AT THE BEGINNING OF A SENTENCE

Sometimes expression with infinitive stand at the beginning (rarely at the end) of a sentence and modify the meaning of the whole statement. 

expression example
to be honest To be honest, he shouldn’t have been promoted.
to cut a long story short To cut a long story short, we got lost and missed our plane back home.
to tell you the truth To tell you the truth, I don’t like her.

“TO” WITHOUT INFINITIVE

Sometimes to avoid repetition – only “to” may be used – without any necessity to add infinitive.

Especially regarding sentences with the use of verbs such as:

like
love
hate
hope
mean
plan
want
try
be going to

I know I hurt you, but I didn’t mean to.
How about going to the cinema tomorrow? Oh, I’d love to.
I haven’t told my Mum yet, but I’m going to.


INFINITIVE WITHOUT “TO”

NOTHING BUT

Infinitive without “to” appear in structures do + anything/ nothing/ everything + infinitive:

She does nothing but complains.
We may do nothing but wait.
Can’t you do anything but cry?
She can do everything but cook.

 MAKE/ LET DO

Infinitive without “to” can stands also after verbs “make” and “let.”

Make – use & examples

make + object + infinitive The film was so sad that it made me cry.
It’s not my fault, because he made me do it.
She makes me laugh all the time.

The verb “make” in the passive voice require the use of “to-infinitive.”

I went there because I was made to do it.
He was made to give all the money back.

Let – use & examples

let + object + infinitive He didn’t let me go there.
Will you let me spend the weekend at Betty’s?
My dad let me drive on the way back home.

Unlike “make”, the verb “let” in passive voice is replaced with other expressions:

They let me know about the vacancy.
was told/informed about the vacancy.


-ING FORM

AFRAID TO DO OR AFRAID OF DOING

Some adjectives can be used with both “infinitive” and “-ing”, but their meaning is different.

He’s afraid to do something…

He doesn’t want to do something, because he is afraid of consequences or potential danger.
This structure suggests the desirability of some of the speaker’s actions or decisions.

This is a very slippery path. I’m afraid to walk there.

He’s afraid of something happening

He’s scared of a dangerous situation. He fears something, which he doesn’t have an impact on. There is no question about purposeful action using this structure; it is about coincidence, risk etc.

This is a very slippery path. I’m afraid of falling.

SORRY TO DO/ FOR DOING

Similar differences appear if it comes to adjectives as “sorry.”

I’m sorry to hear you failed.
I was sorry to learn about your illness.

The newspaper was sorry for publishing that spiteful article.
I’m sorry for failing that exam.

INTERESTED TO DO/IN DOING

I’m interested to hear what you have to say.
We thought you might be interested to know that.

She threw a party, but no one was interested in coming.
Mark is not interested in getting married. He says he wants to stay single.

NEED TO DO/ NEED DOING

Not only adjectives allow using both forms (infinitive and -ing form) simultaneously along with a change of the meaning. The same situation if it comes to verbs, such as “need” or “try.”

need to iron my trousers.
Fred needs to get up early tomorrow.

This plant needs watering, or it’ll wither.
My trousers need ironing.

TRY TO DO/ TRY DOING

tried to open the window, but it was stuck.

The room was stuffy and hot. I tried opening the window and the door, but it didn’t work.

 USED TO DO/ USED TO DOING

The expression “I used to do sth” referred to the past and used to talk about something that happened regularly in the past or happened for a longer time:

We used to play outside all day whenever it was sunny.
I can speak French because I used to live in southern France.

In the expression “be used to doing sth” word “used” function as adjective defining, expressing custom.

She’s used to getting up early.
I’m used to living alone.

 FEELING TIRED…

Expressions containing verb in -ing form are also used:

to talk about an activity happening simultaneously with another activity or being another activity’s background He opened the letter smiling.
She just stood there doing nothing.
She hurt her knee(while) playing tennis.
express/define reasons, explaining oneself Feeling tired, she decided to have a rest.
Being a foreigner, I had problems with renting a flat.

This type of structures usually appears at the beginning of a sentence:

to talk about activities preceding another activity – in this situation the past form “having done” shall be used Having spent all my money, I had to borrow from Aunt Kate.
Having finished the project on which I worked for over a month, I felt suddenly drained of energy.

 

Level: B2
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