To (Sign of the Infinitive)

"To" Shows an Infinitive Verb

"To" is used in expressions like "to walk," "to run," "to paint," etc. (These are all verbs in their infinitive forms.)

"To" is often referred to as "the sign of the infinitive."

What Is the Infinitive Form of a Verb?

Verbs are doing words like "to dance," "to sit," "to fly," and "to think."

When "to" is in front of a verb, the verb is said to be in its "infinitive form." For example:
  • She likes to dance on Saturdays.
  • (This example has a verb ("dance") in its infinitive form.)
  • She dances on Saturdays.
  • (This example has a verb ("dances") not in its infinitive form. Notice the "-s" on the end of "dances.")
The infinitive form of a verb is the verb in its basic form (i.e., without any endings). It is the version of the verb that appears in the dictionary. Read more about the infinitive form of verbs.

Examples of "To" Showing an Infinitive Verb

Here are some examples of "to" marking an infinitive verb. In each example the infinitive verb is shown in bold.
  • There are many options to consider. correct tick
  • Anthony will have to find a bottle and join the party. correct tick
  • You must learn to listen more carefully. correct tick

Do Not Use "Too" for an Infinitive

Using "too" to mark an infinitive verb is a serious writing error. For example:
  • I explained why I had no time too mow the lawn. wrong cross
The word "to" has two uses, and the word "too" has two uses. This infographic summarizes the different uses of "to" and "too":

to or too?
All the uses of "to" and "too" are shown in the lesson the difference between "to" and "too."
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.