Learning English

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Grammar Reference

Verb patterns
In English when two verbs are used back to back, the first verb tells the second verb what form to be. This is called a verb pattern

3 types
There are three basic types of verb pattern:
1. The full infinitive (with to): to + verb
2. The bare infinitive (no to): verb
3. –ING form: verbing

1. to play
2. play
3. playing

Some verbs
There are many verbs in English which have to be followed by a full infinitive:
Agree, want, hope, expect, refuse.

  • I agree to go
  • I wanted to go
  • I will refuse to go

There are many verbs in English which have to be followed by a bare infinitive. A large number are called modal verbs:
Can, can't, will, won't, must, mustn't, should, shouldn't, would, wouldn't, may, might, have to, don't have to.

  • I must go
  • She will go
  • He may go

In both cases these verb patterns cannot be changed and must be learnt as they are.

After adjectives
generally, if we wish to use a verb after an adjective, we use a full infinitive:

  • It's good to see you
  • It's important to remember your keys

Infinitive of purpose
We can use a full infinitive at the end of a clause to explain why we are doing the thing we are doing:

  • I'm going home to sleep
  • I want a dog to play with