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:
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
I felt it
Oh God, let it
The most common perception verbs are:
The most common causative verbs are:
The most common permission verbs are:
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
They had better
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
He had nothing left to do except
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
They need to clean up
A bare infinitive is an infinitive that does not need the particle to. We use a bare infinitive:
- with modal verbs
- with 'why'*
- with causative, permission and perception verbs
- with would rather and had better
- with prepositions
- with coordinating conjunctions
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