Bare Infinitives

The word 'bare' means without the addition of something. So you can easily get the meaning of a bare infinitive.

What Are bare infinitives in English?

What Is a Bare Infinitive?

A bare infinitive is a type of verb form that consists of the base form of a verb without the word 'to' before it, as opposed to 'to-infitintives' which are always preceded by the particle 'to'. Bare infinitives can be used as the main verb in an imperative sentence, after certain verbs or modal auxiliary verbs, in certain idiomatic expressions, and in certain verb constructions.

When to Use Bare Infinitives

Bare infinitives are used in a variety of ways in English. Here are some common situations where bare infinitives are used:

With Modal Verbs

We use a 'bare infinitive' after modal verbs. Look at the following examples:

I will call you later.

They should consider it.

With 'Why'

After the interrogative word 'why' we can use 'bare infinitives' to make suggestions. Check out the examples:

Why listen to her when we can listen to the band?

Why wait outside? We can wait inside the house till the taxi gets here.

using a bare infinitive in a sentence

With Causatives, Permission and Perception Verbs

Bare infinitives are also used after perception verbs with a direct object. Also, after some causative or permission verbs, we use a bare infinitive. For example:

He made me cry.

I felt it move.

Oh God, let it snow.

The most common perception verbs are:

  • see
  • watch
  • notice
  • observe
  • feel
  • hear

The most common causative verbs are:

  • make
  • get
  • have
  • obligate
  • force

The most common permission verbs are:

  • permit
  • let
  • allow

With Would Rather and Had Better

The expressions 'had better' and 'would rather' are typically followed by a bare infinitive. Check out the examples:

She would rather stay over for the night.

They had better take the box with them.

With Prepositions

Some prepositions can be followed by a bare infinitive. Examples of such prepositions include 'except,' 'but,' and 'than.' Here are the examples:

I did nothing but cry when he left me.

He had nothing left to do except wait for the rain to stop.

With Coordinating Conjunctions

When two clauses contain to-infinitives, and the second clause contains a coordinating conjunctions such as 'and', it can be followed by a bare infinitive Check out the examples:

I like to invite you and show you my house.

They need to clean up and use another room from now on.


A bare infinitive is an infinitive that does not need the particle to. We use a bare infinitive:

  1. with modal verbs
  2. with 'why'*
  3. with causative, permission and perception verbs
  4. with would rather and had better
  5. with prepositions
  6. with coordinating conjunctions


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