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?

The particle 'to' is used as a marker for an infinitive. But it is important to know that it is not necessarily used with infinitives.
An infinitive that does not have of 'to' is called a bare infinitive (also called infinitive without to, the base form of the verb, or the basic verb).

let us swim in the pool.

They can drink whenever they want.

What is a Full Infinitive?

The infinitive that includes the term 'to' is called a full infinitive or a to-infinitive. Remember, when we are using a to-infinitive, the term 'to' is not considered a preposition. It is a particle (a part of the infinitive). For example:

I want to book the hotel.

They like to spend time together.

When to Use Bare Infinitives

It is important to know when to use the bare infinitive:

Using Bare Infinitives with Modal Verbs

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

I will call you later.

They should consider it.

Using Bare Infinitives with 'Why'

After the interrogative word 'why' we can use the 'bare infinitive' when we are making 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

Using Bare Infinitives with Causatives, Permission and Perception Verbs

After perception verbs with a direct object, we are supposed to use a bare infinitive. 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

Using Bare Infinitives with Would Rather and Had Better

After the expressions 'had better' and 'would rather', we should use a bare infinitive. Check out the examples:

She would rather stay over for the night.

They had better take the box with them.

Using Bare Infinitives with Prepositions

After some prepositions, we can use a bare infinitive. A few of these prepositions are 'except,' 'but,' and 'than.' Here are the examples:

I did nothing but cry when he left me.

The girl could not find a solution but cut her wrist.

Using Bare Infinitives with Coordinating Conjunctions

When two clauses have to-infinitives, the second clause can have a bare infinitive because of the coordinating conjunctions such as 'and.' 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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