Uses of the bare infinitive

The infinitive can be used with or without the marker to. These two forms of the infinitive are distinguished by the terms ‘to-infinitives’ and ‘bare infinitives’.

Uses of the bare infinitive

The infinitive without the marker to (bare-infinitive) is used after the auxiliaries shall, should, will, would, may, might, do, did, can, could, must, need and dare.

  • I shall invite them.
  • We must go now.
  • He can speak English.
  • You need not go.
  • He dare not refuse.

Notes

When dare and need are used as principal verbs, they are followed by the to-infinitive.

  • Did he dare to do that?
  • We will need two weeks to complete the work.

The infinitive is used without to after some principal verbs like bid, watch, see, let, make, help and hear.

  • I bade him come. (NOT I bade him to come.)
  • Let him go. (NOT Let him to go.)
  • We heard her sing. (NOT We heard her to sing.)
  • I watched them play. (NOT I watched them to play.)

After rather, better and had better

The infinitive is used without to after rather, better and had better.

  • You had rather visit him.
  • I would rather wait.
  • You had better consult a doctor.

After some prepositions like except, but, save and than

  • She can do everything but cook.
  • She did nothing except cry.
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