Tom offered _____ us to the railway station

The given answer is "to drive".

After searching in a dictionary, I understood that "drive" is used as a noun, and "to" might be used as a preposition.

Why can't we use "drive" instead of "to drive"?

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    Your dictionary should have pointed out that “drive” is also a verb. The reference in the sentence is to the sense of the verb, to represent an action to be taken after the offer is made and if it is accepted. To use a verb as a noun in those circumstances requires a to infinitive. Jul 21 at 12:19
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    Drive is not a noun here, but a verb. He said he would take the speaker and companions to the station in his vehicle. Jul 21 at 12:20
  • "catenative verbs" require the infinitive marker TO in contexts like He offered TO go, I wanted TO watch, We needed TO rest. EXCEPT "to help", where that infinitive marker is usually optional (AmE usually favours She helped me relax, where BrE favours He helped me TO relax. Jul 21 at 17:18

You have misunderstood.

Offer can function as a catenative verb—that is, verbs that can be followed directly by another verb. Often, the second verb is a gerund. In other cases, the verb is an infinitive.

That is the case here: Tom offered [verb] + to drive [infinitive]

Wiktionary provides these similar examples (and many more):

He agreed to work on Saturday.
I promise to tell the truth.
You don’t deserve to be treated like that.


In addition to Jeffrey's answer I'd just like to mention that this is a pattern you might recognize from some pretty simple English phrases. Take, for example, someone that is tired and wants to leave a party:

I want to leave

Now consider your question, slightly changed:

Why can't we use "leave" instead of "to leave"?

You probably recognize that "I want leave" sounds really strange. Jeffrey's response answers why: want is also a catenative verb.

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