Uses of the bare infinitive

October 4, 2010pdf

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.


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.
Free Grammar Guide: "120 Deadly Grammar and Vocabulary Mistakes."