what is bare infinitive

Uses of the bare infinitive

 word to is frequently used with an infinitive, but it is not an essential part or sign of it. When an infinitive is used without the marker to it is called a bare infinitive.

Uses of the bare infinitive

The infinitive is used without to after certain verbs like bid, let, make, see, hear, need, dare etc.

  • I bade him go. (NOT I bade him to go.)
  • Let him sit there. (NOT Let him to sit there.)
  • She made me cry. (NOT She made me to cry.)
  • I heard him sing a lovely song. (NOT I heard him to sing a lovely song.)

The bare infinitive is also used after the verbs will, would, shall, should, may, might, can, could and must.

  • I will wait. (NOT I will to wait.)
  • You must obey my instructions. (NOT You must to obey my instructions.)
  • He can speak five languages. (NOT He can to speak five languages.)
  • You should come to school in time. (NOT You should to cometo school in time.)

The infinitive is also used without to after had better, would rather, sooner than and rather than.

  • You had better ask his permission. (NOT You had better to ask his permission.)
  • I would rather die than surrender. (NOT I would rather to diethan surrender.)
  • He would rather play than work.

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I am with her
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As part of the introduction to the grammar guide The English Tenses, I explain important words that are required to understand English grammar – including participles and infinitives. The following is a full explanation of what we mean when we say the bare infinitive, and how you can commonly recognise and use it.

To understand what the infinitive form of a verb is, it is important to understand its root. The noun infinity, and the adjective infinite mean something that is never ending. The infinitive is also something that never ends, it always keeps its form. It is a verb form, preceded by the word to, which never changes, regardless of how it is used in a sentence.

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When the bare infinitive is used in a sentence, therefore, remember it is still an infinitive, it simply does not include the word to. So, like the infinitive, its form must never change.

It is important to understand this, because when a bare infinitive is used to form a tense, it is not affected by time or subject-verb agreement.

With the tenses, the bare infinitive is necessary when forming negative forms and questions for the past and present, using “do” auxiliariesand for future tenses which use will or going to.

  •       Do you want some wine?
  •       Did they go to the zoo?
  •       Will we be on time?
  •       Is he going to feel better soon?
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