Friday, September 2, 2011

Adjectives after the verb to be, followed by infinitives

There are a number of adjectives that can be followed by an infinitive when they come after the verb to be. Here are some exercises to practise the following patterns:
  1. Subject + be + adjective + to-infinitive
  2. Subject + be + adjective + to-infinitive to talk about the future.
  3. It is + adjective + to-infinitive
  4. It is + adjective + for / of + object + to-infinitive

1. Subject + be + adjective + to-infinitive

Many of the adjectives that follow this pattern describe a person’s emotions or mental state. And many are followed by such verbs as hear, see, learn, discover, find out. Others are related to ability, probability and the future.
Most of these adjectives can also be followed by a preposition, a that clause or an adverbial clause.
  • She was very happy to hear she had passed her exam.
  • She was very happy about passing her exam.
  • She was very happy that she had passed her exam.
  • She was very happy when she heard that she had passed her exam.

Click and Drop - Exercises 1-4 all follow the same format. Click on a word in the box and then click on a suitable gap. I suggest you look at all the sentences in each exercise before you answer the questions, as some of them are very similar and could have more than one possible answer.
Pay attention to the adverbs that go with the adjectives, sometimes they will give you a clue as to whether the adjectives are gradable or ungradable. And look out for collocations.

Exercise 1

glad   ·   delighted   ·   anxious   ·   shocked   ·   bound   ·   sad   ·   pleased   ·   about   ·   stunned   ·   hesitant   ·   sorry   ·   content
1.She was very to go back there after what had happened.
2.I'm to have to say this, but we're going to have to let you go.
3.He's rather to find out what's happening tomorrow.
4.I was really to see her again after all those years.
5.She was to hear the news of his death. He was so young!
6.I was only to have been some help.
7.I was to hear about old Uncle Jack, but it wasn't really a surprise.
8.We were quite to just lie on the beach and sunbathe.
9.He was to hear she had turned him down. And him being such a catch!
10.He was to learn that he had been promoted.
11.You're to do well, you always do.
12.They're to have a baby. It's due any day now.

Exercise 2

ashamed   ·   motivated   ·   happy   ·   astonished   ·   likely   ·   willing   ·   lucky   ·   keen   ·   proud   ·   ready   ·   prepared   ·   determined  
1.I'm to be able to give you the good news that you've all passed.
2.I was so to get this job, it's really great.
3.She's really to be the mother of such a successful young man.
4.Is everybody to go? The bus is waiting outside.
5.You messed this one up, but I'm to give you one more chance.
6.She may have messed this one up, but she's to do better next time.
7.He was to discover that women didn't always fall for his smarmy charm.
8.He's to go back there after what he did and said.
9.She's not too sure about Sushi, but she's to give it another go.
10.He doesn't seem to be to do anything with his life.
11.He's very to go in for this competition. He thinks he has a good chance.
12.She's very to win this race. Her practice times were excellent.

Exercise 3

fortunate   ·   reluctant   ·   sure   ·   amazed   ·   relieved   ·   surprised   ·   afraid   ·   embarrassed   ·   eager   ·   careful   ·   disappointed   ·   upset  
1.She was very not to say anything about the divorce to her mother.
2.She was rather to hear I had broken her favourite mug.
3.I was very to hear that we had lost, thinking we had a good chance.
4.She's very to move to another city when she has so many friends here.
5.He was very to find out that he didn't have to go to court.
6.We were very to see him at the races with his secretary.
7.She was to start work as soon as possible.
8.I was very to have had parents who gave me a lot of encouragement.
9.I'm to go in there, you know what he's like.
10.She was totally to hear she had passed with an 'A'.
11.He's to tell her he'd forgotten their anniversary. Again!
12.Bagehot's Boy is to win the 3.30. It's a dead cert.

Exercise 4

unhappy   ·   set   ·   ashamed   ·   furious   ·   certain   ·   liable   ·   devastated   ·   able   ·   due   ·   angry   ·   eligible   ·   unable
1.He was very to discover that his wife was having an affair.
2.His wife was absolutely to discover that he knew!
3.She is quite to fly off the handle now and then.
4.They were very to learn that their son was in trouble.
5.The report is to be published next week.
6.It's great! We were to find a real holiday bargain.
7.Is she, a Nigerian, really to compete for the UK?
8.I am to say that I can't remember your name.
9.She was to learn she hadn't got in to Oxford.
10.According to forecasts, sales of e-books are to double this year.
11.Her concert is to be a sell-out. They always are.
12.We regret we are to extend your overdraft.

2. Expressions with be + (adjective) to-infinitive to talk about the future.

Some of the expressions we've just seen relate to the likelihood of something happening in the future - be likely to, be certain to, be due to, to which we could add be sure to, be unlikely to as well as the ones in the next exercise
The following expressions are often used in newspapers. Some of them look very similar and can be a bit confusing. Note that one of them has no adjective at all.

Exercise 5. - Note how these expressions are used in context and then match them with their definitions below. Click and Drop - Click on an expression on the left and drop it into one of the boxes below.

a. be about toI was just about to make some coffee. Would you like one?
b. be due toShe's due to start her be job at the beginning of the month.
c. be bound toYou're bound to do well, you've been studying so hard.
d. be set toAfter last night's performance, United look set to win the cup.
e. be toGovernment (is) to announce new policy on education.
1. used in newspaper headlines to say something is going to happen
2. likely to happen, especially according to trends
3. going to happen very soon
4. expected to happen, especially according to some kind of schedule
5. certain to happen

3. It is + adjective + to-infinitive

We often use the infitive after certain adjectives in sentences or clauses starting with it. This is usually to give our opinion about something. We can also add for or of and a noun or pronoun:
  • It's difficult to give an exact figure.
  • It was difficult for us to be any more precise at the time.
  • It's incredibly silly to behave like that at the boss's party.
  • It was very silly of him to say what he did.
See if you can work out which to use, for or of, in the following exercise, and then read my comments.

Exercise 6 - Enter for or of as appropriate

1.It was really stupid him to go into the mountains dressed like that.
2.It's unusual him to behave in this way.
3.It's easy you to say that when you've never worked with him.
4.It is wrong him to get so angry over such a little thing.
5.Isn't it possible you to arrive on time occasionally?
6.It's hard her to make a living from her business.
7.It was so clever you to think of doing it like that.
8.It was important him to realise how serious this was.
9.It was right her to complain. I'd have done the same.
10.It is so kind you to look after the children for the afternoon.
11.It's quite common people to see foxes in the city nowadays.
12.It was necessary us to solve this question as soon as possible.
Adjectives in this category include:
  1. difficult, easy, hard, (im)possible
  2. important, necessary, pointless, vital
  3. common, normal, rare, (un)usual
  4. right, wrong, nice, kind, clever, intelligent, silly, stupid
The first two groups are used equally with or without the pronoun, as they are used for both general situations and specific individuals. The third group is usually used without a pronoun, as they refer to everybody - It is common to see .... I think it is fairly unusual to see the last group without a noun or pronoun as we are usually referring to an individual.


  • Ex 1 - 1. hesitant, 2. sorry, 3. anxious, 4. pleased, 5. shocked, 6. glad, 7. sad, 8. content, 9. stunned, 10. delighted,11. bound, 12. about
  • Ex 2 - 1. happy, 2. lucky, 3. proud, 4. ready, 5. prepared, 6. determined, 7. astonished, 8. ashamed, 9. willing, 10. motivated, 11. keen, 12. likely
  • Ex 3 - 1. careful, 2. upset, 3. disappointed, 4. reluctant, 5. relieved, 6. surprised, 7. eager, 8. fortunate, 9. afraid, 10. amazed, 11. embarrassed, 12. sure
  • Ex 4 - 1. angry, 2. furious, 3. liable, 4. unhappy, 5. due, 6. able, 7. eligible, 8. ashamed, 9. devastated, 10. set, 11. certain, 12. unable
  • Ex 5 - 1. be to, 2. be set to, 3. be about to, 4. be due to, 5. be bound to
  • Ex 6 - 1. of, 2. for, 3. for, 4. of, 5. for, 6. for, 7. of, 8. for, 9. of, 10. of, 11. for, 12. for

Printer friendly post

You can make a teacher copy with answers by clicking on 'Show All'. Make sure you 'Clear All' before printing student copies. Or you can print normally and the answers will appear on a separate page (Page 6). The exercise are on Pages 2-5. I strongly recommend doing a Print Preview first. You might want to change your margins and you certainly won't want to print every page.


Unknown said...

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you know what I never read this knife of long article before today ! ! You are amazing

Unknown said...

thank you very much for your post!