The qualifying infinitive

The qualifying infinitive may be used:

1) to qualify a noun like an adjective

  • Give me something to drink.
  • Give me a chair to sit.
  • It was a sight to see.
  • This is a thing to admire.

2) to qualify a verb like an adverb

  • I came to see you.
  • We are going to play the match.
  • It is going to rain.

3) to qualify an adjective like an adverb

  • The book is nice to read.
  • This picture is beautiful to look at.

4) to qualify a sentence

  • To tell the truth, you are a fool.
  • To be frank, I don’t like him.

When the infinitive is used to qualify a noun, verb or adjective, it is called a qualifying infinitive or gerundial infinitive.

Adjectives / adverbs and the qualifying infinitives are compared below.

  • That was a beautiful sight. (Here the adjective beautiful qualifies the noun sight.)
  • That was a sight to see. (Here the infinitive to see qualifies the noun sight.)
  • He came quickly. (Here the adverb quickly modifies the verb came.)
  • He came to see us. (Here the infinitive to see modifies the verb came.)
  • This kind of tea is very good. (Here the adverb very modifies the adjective good.)
  • This kind of tea is good to drink. (Here the infinitive to drink modifies the adjective good.)