- The first person to speak at the conference was an expert on ...
(= the first person who spoke ...)
- Jenny is definitely somebody to keep an eye on.
(= somebody who you should keep an eye on)
- The chemist gave her some tablets, to be taken three times a day.
(= which should be taken / were to be taken)
When can we do this?
1. Replacing normal tenses
- My aunt was the first person to leave.
(= who/that left)
- The next train to leave from Platform 5 is the 17.30 to Bristol.
(= which/that leaves)
- She's the youngest player ever to have been honoured in this way.
(= who/that has been honoured)
- He was the only one to finish the course.
(= who/that finished)
- ordinal numbers - first, second etc;
- so-called 'general ordinals' - next, last, only
- superlative adjectives - the best etc
- A significant point to (have) come out of the research
(= that has come out)
The use of perfect and continuous infinitives
- a The next contestant who answers correctly will get a bonus point.
b The next contestant to answer correctly wil get bonus points.
- a Newton was the first person who understood gravity.
b Newton was the first person to understand / to have understood gravity.
- a The only person who has seen her recently is Martin.
b The only person to see / to have seen her recently is Martin.
- a She's the only person who is taking the test.
b She's the only person to be taking the test.
c She's the only person taking the test.
- a He was the only person who was living there at the time.
b He was the only person to be living / to have been living there at the time.
c He was the only person living there at the time.
|Exercise 1||Rewrite the sentences using a relative infinitive, as in the example. For this exercise, replace perfect tenses with perfect infinitives. Don't use any punctuation.|
|Eg.||Emily has recently got married. She is the first of my sisters who has done so.|
Emily is the first of my sisters to have got married.
|1.||Jones has signed with United. He is the latest player who has done so.|
Jones is with United.
|2.||Christopher Chatterway broke the four minute mile. He was the first athlete who did.|
Christopher Chatterway was the four minute mile.
|3.||Marie Curie won a Nobel prize in two different disciplines. She is the only person who has done so.|
Marie Curie is a Nobel prize in two different disciplines.
|4.||Samantha arrived first and left last.|
Samantha was the to leave.
|5.||Mike Careless has signed the petition. He is the most famous actor who has signed.|
Mike Careless is the petition
|6.||The next one of you lot who makes a sound will have to stay on after class.|
will have to stay on after class.
|7.||This is the best thing that has happened in a long time.|
It's the best in a long time.
|8.||He wasn't the only reporter who questioned the official line.|
He wasn't the only reporter
|9.||No woman has received this honour before.|
She is the first this honour.
|10.||Nobody saw him alive after she did. (person)|
She was the alive.
|11.||They selected him first.|
He was .
|12.||Somebody else has already asked me that question today. (person)|
You are the that question today.
2. Replacing certain modal constructions
- the person to speak to = the person who you should speak to
- a book to read = a book (that) I can read
- a lot to do = a lot that we need to do
- flavours to suit all tastes = flavours that will suit all tastes
- the person to ... = the person who you should ...
- the one to ... = the one that you should ...
- the thing to ... = the thing that we should ...
- the way to ... = the way in which you should ...
- the place to ... = the place where we should ...
- the time to ... = th time when you should ...
- Mary's the person to talk to.
(= Mary's the person who/that you should talk to.)
- The person to talk to is standing over there.
(= The person who/that you should talk to is standing over there.)
|Exercise 2||Rewrite the sentences using a relative infinitive, as in the example. Keep active verbs active, and passive verbs passive and don't use any punctuation.|
|Eg.||The question you should ask yourself is - how much do I want it?|
The question to ask yourself is - how much do I want it?
|1.||I'm not really the person who you should ask.|
I'm not really .
|2.||The thing we should do is talk to Mary about it.|
The thing to talk to Mary about it.
|3.||In the next race, Jenny Peters is the one we should watch.|
In the next race, Jenny Peters .
|4.||Look, you should do it this way.|
Look, this is .
|5.||You should go in September, when it's not so full of tourists.|
The time , when it's not so full of tourists.
|6.||The place you should stay is the Old Mill Inn. It's absolutely wonderful.|
The Old Mill Inn . It's absolutely wonderful.
- I need a book to read for the journey.
(= which/that I can read)
- Have you got something to listen to in the car?
(= which/that we can listen to)
for us, him etc
- The best time (for us) to go would be September.
- It's not such a bad thing (for her) to do.
- A good book (for you) to read on the subject is ...
- Come on, it's time (for us) to go.
|Exercise 3||Choose suitable words from the box to complete the sentences.|
|1.||Isn't there to look after him?||(= who can look after him)|
|2.||I'll need to get a new to wear for the party.||(= which I can wear)|
|3.||I'm bored, there's to do round here.||(= that I can do)|
|4.||Is there to eat? I'm starving.||(= which I can eat)|
|5.||She's gone to buy a to read on the train.||(= that she can read)|
|6.||We've found to stay, by the way.||(= where we can stay)|
|7.||Have you got any to wrap this up in?||(= that I can wrap this up in)|
|8.||Why is there never to sit?.||(= where we can sit)|
|9.||We need a to stay for the night.||(= where we can stay)|
|10.||Has she got a to go to when she gets there?||(= that she can go to)|
|11.||It's not fair! I've got to play with.||(= who I can play with)|
|12.||We all need a to cry on, now and then.||(= that we can cry on)|
need to, have to, must
- There are several candidates still to interview.
(= that we still have to interview)
- There are a number of problems to be dealt with.
(= that need to be dealt with)
|Exercise 4||Rewrite the sentences using a relative infinitive,as in the example. Keep active verbs active, and passive verbs passive and don't use any punctuation.|
|Eg.||We still have a long way we need to go on this project.|
There is still a long way to go on this project.
|1.||We still have to do a lot before we can call it a day.|
There before we can call it a day.
|2.||We still need to discuss one or two points.|
|3.||That will give us plenty that we must think about.|
|4.||An extensive series of tests must be passed before we can proceed.|
There is before we can proceed.
|5.||Several questions still have to be answered.|
|6.||They have another three matches they need to win in order to qualify.|
They in order to qualify.
- We have products to suit all pockets.
(= that will suit all pockets / for all pockets)
need / will
- Measures to deal with the problem have been put in place.
(= which are needed to deal with the problem / that will deal with the problem)
|Exercise 5||Complete the sentences using a relative infinitive.|
|1.||They offer a range of gifts that will appeal to today's value-focused shoppers.|
They offer a range of gifts today's value-focused shoppers.
|2.||It was certainly a day we will remember.|
It was certainly .
|3.||Points which will be considered include costs and time restraints.|
Points include costs and time restraints.
|4.||Certain steps have been taken which will solve the problem.|
Certain steps have been taken .
|5.||These are the proposals that will be discussed at tomorrow's meeting.|
These are the proposals at tomorrow's meeting.
|Exercise 6||Fill each gap with a suitable preposition|
|1.||I'd like to go to the cinema, but I've nobody to go .|
|2.||Oh, this chocolate cake really is to die .|
|3.||See if you can find a rug to sit for the picnic.|
|4.||Have you anything to open this bottle of wine ?|
|5.||Is there some sort of container to put these ?|
|6.||They've got a large family to provide .|
|7.||Here's something to look while you're waiting.|
|8.||I can't make up my mind which to go , the red or the blue.|
|9.||She's always the first to turn at this sort of event.|
|10.||I'm not sure who to turn for advice.|
Some odds and ends
|Exercise 7||Choose suitable words from the box to complete the sentences. Some words are used more than once.|
|1.||That should give him something to think .|
|2.||It's a lot to take at one sitting.|
|3.||The best to do is to wait and see.|
|4.||The score's still 0:0, and there's still everything to play .|
|5.||Have you got to clean this with?|
|6.||Can anybody find me to love? (Queen)|
|7.||There's a lot to be said taking your time.|
|8.||The flat's nothing much to speak , perhaps, but it suits me.|
|9.||She just needs a place to lay her for a few days.|
|10.||What have you got to worry ?|
|Exercise 8||Choose suitable words from the box to complete the sentences. Some words are used more than once.|
|1.||Have you got a key to open this ?|
|2.||Now that sounds like a to avoid on a dark night.|
|3.||'Tis the to be jolly. (Dickens - A Christmas Carol)|
|4.||At last we have a place to call .|
|5.||It's to get ready for school, children.|
|6.||Home is more than just somewhere to hang your .|
|7.||I'm the last to criticise him, but really! What's he playing at?|
|8.||Why is she always the to complain about anything, I wonder.|
|9.||Now is not the to cry. Now is the to find out why. (Oasis)|
|10.||So that's two lattes and a cappuccino to , right?|
A reminder - nouns often followed by infinitives
- He certainly has the ambition to succeed.
- Her efforts to gain promotion have so far failed.
- It's a wonderful opportunity to see the world.
- His refusal to cooperate is disappointing.
- I had the sudden urge to hit him.
- The proposal to build a new road will be discussed tomorrow.
(What proposal? - the one to build a new road - noun complement)
- There are several proposals to be discussed
(proposals which need to be discussed - infinitival relative clause)
- I was a fool to believe her.
(Why was I a fool? - Because I believed her. - noun complement)
- The only fool to believe her was me
(the only fool who believed her - infinitival relative clause)
- Reduced relative clause - lesson and exercises
- Non-defining relative clauses, also sentential and connective relative clauses
- Exploring coordinate relative clauses
- When do we use that instead of who and which
- Defining relative clauses - short exercise
- A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, 1985
Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum and others
17.30-17.32 Postmodification by infinitive clauses pp.1265-1269
- The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, 2002
Rodney Huddleston, Geoffrey K. Pullum and others
Infinitival relative clauses, pp.1067-1068