All he ever does is EAT, DRINK.... why use a main verb?

Laurentblanchere

New Member
French - Parisian
Hi,

All he ever does is eat, drink, make trouble, sleep

We use this sentence to criticize someone.

Can someone tell me why the verb following "IS" is a "main verb/verb without the to?

Why is this verb (eat, drink, make, sleep) not conjugated at the 3rd person singular?

Laurent
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Speakers and writers often use a bare infinitive rather than an infinitive with "to" in sentences like this one.

    Because the sentence uses "does", it wouldn't make sense to conjugate all the following verbs for person.

    Here's a similar example: All I do is watch TV. I could have said: All I do is to watch TV. However, it's far more common to delete the preposition in such statements.

    All he does is watches TV, lies on the couch, etc. ???
    All he does is watch TV, lie on the couch, and eat potato chips. (This is normal). The verb "does" is ordinarily followed by a bare infinitive, and speakers tend to extend this principle even after an intervening verb such as "is". I do watch TV every day. All I do is watch TV every day. Remember, an infinitive can serve as a subject, an object, or a complement that completes the thought begun by the conjugated verb. In sentences like your example, the verbs in the predicate are working in such a way.

    Welcome to the forum, Laurentblanchere. :)
     
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    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    You are referring here to a form of the verb called the bare infinitive. (That's a term I learned here, not in school when I was studying English.) It's the same as the regular infinitive, which consists of the particle "to" plus an uninflected form of the verb (sometimes called the to-infinitive). Infinitives are not inflected for number and person in English.
     

    Laurentblanchere

    New Member
    French - Parisian
    Thank you very to both of you.

    At first, I thought it could have been a form of English subjunctive.

    From now on, I will remember the bare infinitive.

    Laurent.
     

    ovgolovin

    Member
    Russian
    If I say instead of
    All he does is watch TV, lie on the couch, and eat potato chips.
    All he does is watching TV, lying on the couch, and eating potato chips. (e.g. use gerund instead of bare infinitive)
    would it be wrong?
     
    Yes, it would be wrong. You could correct it, though, by having a similar verb form on the other side of the "is":
    All he is doing is watching TV, lying on the couch, and eating potato chips.
     
    Last edited:

    ovgolovin

    Member
    Russian
    I got it. Thank you.

    In the variant which I gave the gerunds are confused with present progressive tense (becase the gerunds are preceded with 'is'). And to avoid the confusion we either use infinitive (a bare infinitive to make things concise getting rid of 'to') or use the verb in present progressive thus making the second present continuous impossible and so the second 'is + gerund' unambiguous in meaning.
    Correct?
     

    icecreamsoldier

    Senior Member
    New Zealand English
    All he does is watching TV, lying on the couch, and eating potato chips. (e.g. use gerund instead of bare infinitive)
    would it be wrong?
    It would make sense, however, if you reversed the word order to make it:
    "Watching TV, lying on the couch and eating potato chips is all he (ever) does."

    As the subject of the sentence the -ing form is appropriate.
     
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