I don't know why the writer use 'to' before verb 'trust'. Following is the pattern used in a verb 'trust'

"trust somebody to do something"

Now, why we use 'to' before trust?

The managers did not know whom to trust.

  • 1
    A valency pattern of a clause is determined by the predicator(know), which is the head of the main verb phrase. Verb know allows a to-infinitival complement, not a bare infinitival verb.
    – user178049
    Mar 13 '17 at 6:42
  • Great clue. Do that sentence follows the pattern below? "know somebody/something to be/do something We know her to be honest."oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/know_1?q=know Mar 13 '17 at 7:17
  • 1
    Yes, you are right. It does.
    – user178049
    Mar 13 '17 at 7:20
  • Thanks so much. Is it because 'whom' refers to object of the verb 'know' in the pattern mentioned above that we use 'whom' instead of 'who'? Mar 13 '17 at 7:27
  • 1
    Again, you are right. Whom is the obj of know.
    – user178049
    Mar 13 '17 at 7:35

"To" makes the verb an "infinitive".

Here's an oversimplification: In most cases, a sentence can only have one real verb. (It's an oversimplification because I'm ignoring quotations, dependent clauses, and other such complex exceptions, but it works for these kinds of simple sentences).

In your sentence, "know" is the real verb, and "to trust" is actually the object. The object cannot be a simple verb, so it must be an infinitive instead. Basically, the infinitive "to" form of a verb allows one verb to act on another verb.

The easiest example of using an infinitive like this would be to construct sentences using "want".

I want to run. I want to sing. I want to jump.

One verb per simple sentence... the second "verb" is not grammatically treated as a verb. The infinitive makes it able to be an object.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.