Grammar-QuizzesVerb PhrasesVerb Complements › Infinitives

Infinitives (infinitivals, secondary verbs, nonfinite clauses)

Summary of Practices



Infinitive Diagnostic: identify specific points that need review

A helpful friend

Quiz 1: beginning – intermediate

Quiz 2: intermediate – advanced

Infinitive as Subject: refer to activities, quotes and definitions

Beginning– Advanced ESL; Native Speakers


To be or not to be. That is the question.

laughto express mirth, pleasure or amusement   (a dictionary entry)

Verbs w/Infinitive Complements: express desire or intent to do an activity

Beginning– Intermediate ESL

Art image - man screaming - Edvard Munch

Edward needs to get help. (infinitive clause)

Ed needs [Ed get some help]. (subclause)

He helped [to] get the work done.

Ed doesn't want us to help.

Ed wants us not to help. 

Infinitive Cls w/Subj: take action vs. express desire for someone else to do an activity

Beginning– Intermediate ESL

Brummer Man sitting

Ed needs [for Ed] to get some help.

Ed needs [(for) me to get some help.

Ed intended [Frida to do the portrait].

Ed persuaded Frida [to do the portrait].

Ed made Frida do the portrait.

Ed helped Frida (to) do the portrait.

Command Verbs w/Infinitives: Impose will on (command) other people to do things

Intermediate– Advanced ESL


The judge ordered John to leave.  

The judge ordered that John leave.  (Verb uses base form, no -s.)

Get to vs. Go to: express opportunity vs. intent  ("get" before an infinitive)

Beginning–Intermediate ESL

Party time

Today, I get to go to a birthday party next door.  (lucky situation)

I am going to go¹ to my neighbor's birthday party.  (intent)

It takes + Infinitive: express how much is needed  ("It takes" before an infinitive)

Beginning– Intermediate ESL

hour glass

It takes ten minutes to get ready in the morning. (anyone)

It takes Jill ten minutes to get ready in the morning.

It takes ten minutes for her to get ready in the morning.

Too / Enough + Infininitive: state minimum and maximum requirements 

Intermediate ESL

Babe sitting on the hood of a car

She is too young to drive.

She is old enough to drive.

"Be" Adj + Infinitive: express feelings and reactions

Beginning– Intermediate ESL

Dog with flowers

We were happy to hear the good news.

"It is" Adj/Noun + Infinitive: express opinion or advice

Intermediate ESL

lab technician

It's a good idea to put on a lab coat.

It's a good idea for us to put on our lab coats.

It's hard for us to know when a rat will get loose.

"In order" + Infinitive: state purpose

Beginning–Advanced ESL

Doctor operating on a patient/victim

The doctor operated in order to save his patient's life.

The doctor operated so that they could save his patient's life..

Infinitives Context: identify infinitives

Beginning–Intermediate ESL


I want to explore.

I just want to do my best.

Finite / Nonfinite: recognize two clause categories (with primary and secondary verbs)

Advanced ESL, Native Speaker

Charlie dislikes sitting all day

The children helped Charlie raise the flag.

Charlie wants to raise his hand.

Charlie likes raising his hand.

The flag raised on the pole waved in the wind.

Nonfinite Clause—Timing & Voice: express earlier or later timing in infinitive and gerund clauses

Intermediate–Advanced ESL

door unlocked

Jack seems to have left the door unlocked. (earlier)

He should have known better. (earlier)

Jack remembers having left in a hurry. (earlier)

He admits to being preoccupied. (same time)

He was told to lock the door. (same time)

He plans to double-check the door before leaving. (later)

Splitting Verbs: examine the positioning of adverbs

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers


I will faithfully execute the office of president...
I will execute faithfully the office of president...