Unit 33 Adjective + `to’ or `that’

Main points

* Adjectives used after link verbs are often followed by `to’-infinitive clauses or `that’-clauses.

* Some adjectives are always followed by `to’-infinitive clauses.

* You often use `to’-infinitive clauses or `that’-clauses after adjectives to express feelings or opinions.

* You often use `to’-infinitive clauses after adjectives when the subject is impersonal `it’.

1 After link verbs, you often use adjectives that describe how someone feels about an action or situation. With some adjectives, you can add a `to’-infinitive clause or a `that’-clause to say what the action or situation is.

afraid, anxious, ashamed, disappointed, frightened, glad, happy, pleased, proud, sad, surprised, unhappy

If the subject is the same in both clauses, you usually use a `to’-infinitive clause. If the subject is different, you must use a `that’-clause.
I was happy to see them again.
He was happy that they were coming to the party.

You often use a `to’-infinitive clause when talking about future time in relation to the main clause.
I am afraid to go home.
He was anxious to leave before it got dark.

You often use a `that’-clause when talking about present or past time in relation to the main clause.
He was anxious that the passport was missing.
They were afraid that I might have talked to the police.

2 You often use `sorry’ with a `that’-clause. Note that `that’ is often omitted.
I’m very sorry that I can’t join you.
I’m sorry I’m so late.

3 Some adjectives are not usually used alone, but have a `to’-infinitive clause after them to say what action or situation the adjective relates to.

able, apt, bound, due, inclined, liable, likely, prepared, ready, unlikely, unwilling, willing

They were unable to help her.
They were not likely to forget it.
I am willing to try.
I’m prepared to say I was wrong.

4 When you want to express an opinion about someone or something, you often use an adjective followed by a `to’-infinitive clause.

difficult, easy, impossible, possible, right, wrong

She had been easy to deceive.
The windows will be almost impossible to open.
Am Iwrong to stay here?

Note that in the first two examples, the subject of the main clause is the object of the `to’-infinitive clause. In the third example, the subject is the same in both clauses.

5 With some adjectives, you use a `that’-clause to express an opinion about someone or something.

awful, bad, essential, extraordinary, funny, good, important, interesting, obvious, sad, true

I was sad that people had reacted in this way.
It is extraordinary that we should ever have met!

6 You can also use adjectives with `to’-infinitive clauses after `it’ as the impersonal subject. You use the preposition `of’ or `for’ to indicate the person or thing that the adjective relates to.
It was easy to find the path.
It was good of John to help me.
It was difficult for her to find a job.
See Unit 17 for `it’ as impersonal subject.

See Unit 47 for more information about adjectives followed by `of’ or `for’.