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Bare Infinitives

Infinitives used without the marker to are called bare infinitives. Uses of the bare infinitives Infinitives are used without to after the auxiliary verbs will, shall, would, should, can, could, may, might, do, did, must, need and dare. I will come. We shall wait. I can knit. We should go. He may come. We must respect our parents and teachers. You need not wait. Note that the auxiliary verbs dare and need can also be used as principal verbs. When they are used as principal verbs, they are followed by to-infinitives. Do I need to wait? He didn't dare to refuse. Infinitives are used without to after the principal verbs bid, watch, see, let, make, help and hear. Let them come. I saw him do it. They made me cry. Help him lift that bag. We heard her sing. After rather, better, had better Infinitives are used without to after rather, better and had better. I would rather wait.

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You had better ask his permission. Better do this again. I would rather die than give up. After prepositions like except, but, save and than Infinitives are used without to after except, but, save and than. She can do everything but cook. She did nothing but cry. Note that in many cases bare infinitives can be re-written as to-infinitives. I can cook. (= I am able to cook.) I bade him come. (= I asked him to come.) Let them come. (= Allow them to come.) I must go now. (= I ought to go now.) I will kill him. (= I am determined to kill him.) Exercise Pick out the infinitive in each of the following sentences and state what function it serves. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. I have come to see you. Give me some water to drink. We eat to live. All children like to play. He is anxious to find a good job. He is willing to help us. I offered him a chair to sit. To wait any longer is not possible.

Answers 1. To see (Here the infinitive to see modifies the verb come.) 2. To drink (Here the infinitive to drink acts as an adjective modifying the noun water.) 3. To live (Here the infinitive to live acts as an adverb modifying the verb eat.) 4. To play (Here the infinitive to play acts as the object of the verb like.) 5. To find (Here the infinitive to find acts as an adverb modifying the adjective anxious.)

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6. 7. 8.

To help (Here the infinitive to help acts as an adverb modifying the verb willing.) To sit (Here the infinitive to sit acts as an adverb modifying the noun chair.) To wait (Here the infinitive to wait acts as the subject of the verb is.)