Infinitive constructions: Complex Subject, Complex Object, For-Construction.

Exam in Mind Level B1 / B2

The infinitive is used in three predicative infinitive constructions:

  • complex object (the objective with the infinitive construction)
  • complex subject (the subjective infinitive construction)
  • the for-to-infinitive construction

Complex Object

The Objective with the Infinitive Construction or the Objective Infinitive Complex consists of a noun in the common case and the infinitve. In the sentence this complex has the function of a complex object: I like Helen to sing. I like her to sing.

The Objective Infinitive Complex is used:

  • after verbs denoting sense perception (to see, to hear, to watch, to feel, to observe, to notice): She saw Zoe cry. Suddenly I heard him call my name. Mark watched them climb the hill.
  • after verbs denoting mental activity (to know, to think, to consider, to believe, to suppose, to expect, to imagine, to find, to feel, to trust): We consider him to be the best student in our school. We expected her to return. Everybody expected her to marry Paul. I know him to be the most hard-working student in our class. I found the film to be funny.
  • after verbs of declaring (to pronounce, to decare, to report): She declared him to be the most disobedient child in existence. The surgeon pronounced the wound to be a slight one. 
  • after verbs denoting wish and intention (to want, to wish, to desire, to mean, to intend): The teacher wanted them to read this book. He intended me to go with him to the theatre. I want you to come and dine with me. He wished those books to be returned tonight. She desired me to follow her upstairs. I didn’t mean you to learn the poem by heart. I don’t want you to go there alone.
  • after verbs and expressions denoting feeling and emotion (to like, to dislike, to love, to hate, cannot bear): I dislike you to talk like that. I hate him to be punished. I cannot bear you to speak of him. 
  • after verbs denoting order and permission (to order, to allow, to permit, to request, to ask, to let, to advise, to recommend, to suffer, to have): He ordered his luggage to be taken to his room. Grandpa ordered some water to be brought. The teacher allowed students to use their dictionaries. Her father suffered her to play with Paul.
  • after verbs denoting compulsion (to make, to cause, to force): Granny made him work. She caused a letter to be sent immediately. The police officer forced them to go away.

Complex Subject

The Subjective Infinitive Complex consists of a noun in the Common Case or a personal pronoun in the Nominative Case and the infinitive.

The Subjective Infinitive Complex is used with the following groups of verbs:

  • with verbs (in the Passive Voice) denoting sense perception (to see, to hear, to watch, to feel, to observe, to notice): Birds were heard to sing in the garden. He was seen to enter the house. The rider was noticed to disappear in the distance. 
  • with verbs (in the Passive Voice) denoting mental activity (to know, to think, to consider, to believe, to suppose, to expect): He was considered to be honest and kind. The manuscipt is believed to be written in the 15th century. The meeting is expected to begin this morning. I was supposed to meet him. He was thought to have gone
  • with verbs to say and to report (in the Passive Voice): He is said to write a new novel. The delegation is reported to have arrived in Geneva. This book is said to be printed in Lviv. 
  • with verbs (in the Passive Voice) denoting order, permission and compulsion (to order, to allow, to permit, to request, to ask, to advise, to recommend, to make, to cause, to force): They were ordered to leave the building. He was made to put on his coat. 
  • with verbs to seem and to appear, to happen and to chance, to turn out and to prove: He seemed to be thinking about something. She seemed not to listen to him. Her mother had chanced to look into her room. They seemed to have forgotten him. The experiment proved to be a failure. They all turned out to be good specialists. Yesterday we happened to see them.
  • with word groups to be likely, to be unlikelyto be sure, to be certain: He is sure to marry her. We are not likely to meet often. He is certain to be sleeping. We are sure to learn of it. 


The for-to-infinitive construction is a construction in which the infinitive is in predicate relation to a noun or pronoun preceded by the preposition for. It is called the Prepositional Infinitive Complex. In the sentence the Prepositional Infinitive Complex may be used in functions of subject, predicative, object, attribute and adverbial modifier of result and purpose.

For me to see you is the happiest moment in life. It’s a shame for people to spend so much money on gambling. That’s for him to find out. He waited for her to speak. There’s nobody here for him to play with. He stepped aside for me to pass. He spoke loud enough for you to hear

I hope it’s not difficult now to use infinitive constructions in the sentences of yours.