How many types of infinitives are there in English?

Let’s learn the infinitive forms in the English language.

Exam in Mind  Level B1/B2

The Infinitive in English has six forms:

  • The Simple Active Infinitive to do
  • The Simple Passive Infinitive to be done
  • The Continuous Infinitive to be doing
  • The Perfect Infinitive to have done
  • The Perfect Passive Infinitve to have been done
  • The Perfect Continuous Infinitive to have been doing

The Simple Active Infinitive 

A simple infinitive is used in the active voice when the action in the infinitive is performed by the subject or the object (generally the subject).

Structure: to + V1

  • To go there alone is dangerous.
  • To rest is the only thing I want right now.
  • One of my talents is to mimic people.
  • The person to contact is Max.
  • They forced me to leave.
  • I order you to do it again.

The Simple Passive Infinitive

A simple infinitive is used in the passive voice when the action in the infinitive is received by the subject or the object (generally the subject).

Structure: to + be + past participle (V3)

  • To be doubted works like a fuel sometimes.
  • I want to be respected. I deserve it.
  • I hate to be told what to do.
  • They need to be heard.
  • I chose to be beaten in that match.
  • Nobody deserved to be killed.

Simple Active Infinitive – Simple Passive Infinitive

I want to love her. – I want to be loved
Sam hates to call at night. – Sam hates to be called at night. 
We were happy to help them. – We were happy to be helped by them. 

The Continuous Infinitive

The simple continuous infinitive is used to refer to a noun (an action) in the continuous state. It is only used in the active voice; it can’t be used in the passive form.

Structure: to + be + present participle (V1+ING)

  • He seems to be crying.
  • I am happy to be working here.
  • You are pretending to be sleeping.
  • Are you denying to be talking to Jacob right now?

The Perfect Infinitive

The perfect infinitive is used to refer to a past time. It can be used in both the active voice and the passive voice. The perfect infinitive refers to a past time and the action (infinitive) is performed by the subject or the object. The infinitive refers to an activity that finished before the main verb.

Structure: to + have + past participle (V3)

  • I am happy to have done this. (I am happy about an action that I did in the past.)
  • He admitted to have robbed the shop. (He admitted that he had robbed the bank.)
  • You are just pretending to have watched this movie. (You are pretending that you have watched this movie.)

The Perfect Passive Infinitive

The perfect infinitive is used in the passive voice to refer to a past action acted upon the subject or the object.

Structure: to + have + been + past participle (V3)

  • I am happy to have been selected for the trip. (I am happy that I have been selected for the trip.)
  • She is claiming to have been molested. (She is claiming that she has been molested.)
  • He was pretending to have been cheated. (He was pretending that he had been cheated.)

The Perfect Continuous Infinitive

The perfect continuous infinitive is used to refer to an action (non-finite) that was continuing for some time in the past or an action that started in the past and is going on in the present. It is only used in the active voice.

Structure: to + have + been + present participle (V1+ing)

  • You seem to have been drinking for some hours.
  • I am happy to have been working here.
  • We were glad to have been living there.
  • He pretended to have been working all day.

Have Practice in Using Infinitive Forms

Task 1. Use the verb in parentheses in the form of a passive infinitive (to be + V3).

Example: The students hope to be given their own books. (give)

  1. The little boy likes ____________ by his mother. (hold)
  2. He doesn’t want ____________  to Afghanistan. (send)
  3. The landlord asked ____________ on time. (pay)
  4. The new workers need ____________ how to use the machines. (show)
  5. The passenger is ____________ off of the plane as soon as it arrives. (escort)
  6. Customers expect ____________ when they are in the store. (help)
  7. Dinner is ____________ at 7 p.m. (serve)
  8. The prisoners are soon ____________ by their captors. (release)
  9. ____________ for advice by the President was a great honor. (ask)
  10. They don’t want ____________ when they buy the car. (cheat)

Task 2. Rewrite each short sentence or question using a passive infinitive.

Example: He wants to marry someone. / He wants to be married

  1. She wants a doctor to see her.
  2. I need you to give me more time.
  3. John hopes that company hires him.
  4. Runners in the street want the drivers to see them.
  5. They’re selling the car at an auction.
  6. The store will fix the computer for free.
  7. The government plans to release the information.
  8. Bob asked someone to pick him up at the airport.
  9. They don’t want anyone to disturb them.
  10. You need to wash this by hand.

Task 3. Infinitive forms: Passive Infinitives. Choose the correct answer.

  1. The children agreed _____________ the snacks evenly.
    A. to divide B. to be divided
  2. When I told Roger the news, he seemed ______________.
    A. to surprise B. to be surprised
  3. Evelyn is going to fill out an application. She wants __________ for the job.
    A. to consider B. to be considered
  4. The FEDEX package is supposed ____________ to my house in Nashville at noon.
    A. to deliver B. to be delivered
  5. I expect ___________ at the airport by my brother tomorrow.
    A. to meet B. to be met
  6. Mr. White offered ___________ us to the train station.
    A. to take B. to be taken
  7. Max appears __________ about the trip to the broccoli farm.
    A. to excite B. to be excited

Task 4. Infinitive forms: Continuous Infinitive. Rewrite the following sentences.


  • I’m sure that he is coming tomorrow. – He must be coming tomorrow.
  • It appears that Sam is living in Madrid. – Sam appears to be living in Madrid.
  1. Maybe they are watching a video. They might ____________ a video.
  2. It seems that he is working for IBM. He seems ____________ for IBM.
  3. She promised she would be waiting at the arrivals hall. She promised ____________ at the arrivals hall.
  4. She pretended that she was crying. She ____________.
  5. It happened that he was sitting near me when I collapsed. He ____________ near me when I collapsed.
  6. It’s a pity that you aren’t listening to me. You should ____________ to me.
  7. It appears that they are enjoying the party. They ____________ the party.
  8. I hoped I would be living in Rome in a year’s time. I hoped ____________ in Rome in a year’s time.
  9. Everybody believes that Marion is studying mathematics. Marion is believed ____________ mathematics.
  10. People think that our son is playing for FC Barcelona. Our son is ____________ for FC Barcelona.

Task 5. Infinitive forms: Perfect Infinitive. Choose the correct forms to complete the sentences. 

  1. It is possible that he left. He might ____________
    A. left    B. have left
  2. I was listening to Sue and Jill. You shouldn’t ____________ to them.
    A. be listening     B. have been listening
  3. I’m sure they sent the parcel. They must ____________ the parcel.
    A. have sent    B. have been sent
  4. It is impossible that she was having a bath. She couldn’t ____________ a bath.
    A. have been having    B. be having
  5. He seems to have been ill. It seems that he ____________ ill.
    A. is     B.was
  6. I happened to have bought such a bike before. It happened that I ____________ such a car before.
    A. bought    B. had bought
  7. She pretended to have been smiling at him. She pretended that she ____________ at him.
    A. was smiling    B. had been smiling
  8. John appears to have been suffering for a long time. It appears that John ____________ for a long time.
    A. had been suffering     B. has been suffering
  9. He is known to have abandoned his family. Everybody knows that he ____________ his family.
    A. had abandoned     B. abandoned
  10. They are believed to have been telling the truth. People believe that they ____________ the truth.
    A. were telling     B. are telling

Task 6. Choose the most appropriate form of the infinitive.

1. We expect him __________ tomorrow.

2. You can’t make him __________ it.

3. We are ready __________.

4. This report must __________ as soon as possible. It’s urgent!

5. I asked him, but he pretended __________ and didn’t answer.

6. You should __________ them an hour ago.

7. It was impossible __________ at his jokes.

8. Wait till he finishes his speech. He doesn’t like __________ while he is speaking.

9. He is said __________ for London already.

10. She watched him __________ slowly toward the parking lot.