§ 184.The infinitive is lexically dependent in this function —
it is used only after certain verbs: a) after modal verbs (this use
has been described in detail in "Verbs", § 76-120) and b) after the
following intransitive verbs: to seem, to appear, to turn out, to
Prove, to happen, to chance.
e-g- He seemed to knowall about it.
I'm quite aware how improbable that sounds but it happens
to bethe truth.
He turned out to haveno feeling whatsoever for his nephew.
These verbs may be followed by different analytical forms of
the infinitive with to.
e.g. For a moment she appeared to be hesitating.
He seemed to have gainedall he wanted.
The letter seems to have been mislaid.
In that same week I happened to have been enquiring whether
all the invitations had been sent out.
As is seen from the above examples, the Perfect infinitive ex-
presses an action which precedes the action indicated by the finite
verb, while the Continuous infinitive expresses an action simulta-
neous with it.
The subject of the infinitive in this function is the same as the
subject of the sentence (see the examples above). (For comparison
with the ing-form see § 212.)
The Infinitive as a Second Action Accompanying the Action
of the Predicate Verb
§ 185. The infinitive may express a second action in the sen-
tence, accompanying the action of the predicate verb. The subject
of the infinitive is the same as that of the predicate verb. This sec-
ond action follows the action expressed by the predicate verb and
may be called a subsequent action. Hence the term the infinitive of
The infinitive of subsequent action always follows the predicate
and is used with the particle to.
The most commonly occurring verbs followed by this kind of
infinitive are those of motion such as to come, to hurry, to reach,
to return, to run, to rush, to turn, to walk and their synonyms as
well as the verbs to look or to glance (followed by up, down,
across, about, round, toward, etc.), to wake up, to awake, to be
The infinitive of subsequent action itself may also be ex-
pressed by a wide range of verbs of different lexical character,
but by far the most frequently occurring verbs are to discover, to
find, to hear, to see and their synonyms.
e.g. He turned to find her sad, calm eyes upon him. (= and found)
He returned ten minutes later to find Bridget ready for de-
parture. (= and found)
I looked across to see Mr Jesmond smiling at me. (= and saw}
One night he awakened to hear a light rain whispering in the
garden. (= and heard)
Then the sun came out again to brighten the last spatter of
rain. (=and brightened)
As a rule, the action of the infinitive instantly follows that of
the predicate verb, as in all the examples above. Sometimes, how-
ever, this immediate succession of actions is expressed in the sen-
tence by means of special indications, such as in time, or just in
time, the next moment and the like.
e.g. Alice arrived in time to hear Tom's remark.
Etta then shot out of the room just in time to shut the door
behind her before she exploded into incontrollable shrieks
If the action of the infinitive does not follow that of the predicate verb directly, there are usually special indications of time in
e.g. I know of quite a few people who always start a new life on
the 1st of January only to slip back to the old one on the
He walked out one morning without a word to anyone, to be
heard of some time afterwards in Australia.
The infinitive of subsequent action is sometimes preceded by
only. In this case the combination of the predicate verb and the
infinitive usually acquires the following meaning: the action of
the predicate verb becomes pointless and its effect is, as it were,
brought to naught by the action expressed by the infinitive.
e.g. The motor started again, only to stop again in a moment.
He took off the receiver only to replace it.
The infinitive of subsequent action may be preceded by never to
show that the action of the infinitive is not destined to take place.
e-g. She knew that he had gone never to return.
Young Hardcastle, when he attained the age of fifteen, had
disappeared from his home never to be heard of again.
The infinitive of subsequent action is not in common use in
English; it is mainly restricted to literary style.
(For comparison with the ing-form see § 213.)