All I can do is (to) drink.

< Previous | Next >

Prower

Banned
Russian
1) Could someone explaine why most of the times in the similar sentences we don't use to

All I can do is (to) drink.

I know that to is also possible. So what makes us choose sometimes the option with to and sometimes without it?

2) Does it bear only on the sentences with All and do?
 
Last edited:
  • wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    1) Could someone explaine why most of the times in the similar sentences we don't use to

    All I can do is (to) drink.

    I know that to is also possible. So what makes us choose sometimes the option with to and sometimes without it?

    2) Does it bear only on the sentences with All and do?
    Hello Prower. Privet.
    I suspect it is easier and faster to say a sentence like that without using to.

    Other expresions:

    after do


    What a fire-door does is (to) delay the spread of a fire.


    after why (not)

    Why pay more at other shops?

    after and,or, except, but, than, as and like

    It is easier to do it yourself than explain to somebody else how to do it.

    Also
    after let, make, hear etc
    after modal auxiliary verbs



    Source: http://www.perfectyourenglish.com/grammar/infinitives-without-to.htm and Swan's PRACTICAL ENGLISH USAGE, Third edition, page 257, chapter 281 infinitives: without to.:)
    The following topic might be of interest: Are infinitives ever really verbs? http://www.onestopenglish.com/are-infinitives-ever-really-verbs/3926.thread
     
    Last edited:

    Prower

    Banned
    Russian
    wolfbm1 Thank you. I was more concerned about the

    All I can do is (to)

    It is still not clear for me when we should put to
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    1) Could someone explain why most of the time in the similar sentences we don't use to

    All I can do is (to) drink.

    I know that to is also possible. So what makes us choose sometimes the option with to and sometimes without it?

    2) Does it bear only on the sentences with All and do?
    I can't imagine inserting "to" in the sentence All I can do is drink. Where have you seen such a sentence including "to"? Can you give an example and a source?
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    wolfbm1 Thank you. I was more concerned about the

    All I can do is (to)

    It is still not clear for me when we should put to
    According to Swan after "expressions like All I did was, What I do is etc" you can use an infinitive without to. Source: as ln post #2. This means that you can also use an infinitive with to. It is optional. In his example sentence the marker to is in parenthesis:
    "All I did was (to) give him a little push."

    Similarly one could say: My daughter was very sad when she lost her little kitten. All I did was give her a hug. OR All I did was to give her a hug.
    Either sentence is grammatically correct. Which one is used more often? I would vote for the sentence without to. Anyway the marker to is never stressed. It rhymes with the word matter. Let us wait and see what the native speakers think about it.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I can't imagine inserting "to" in the sentence All I can do is drink. Where have you seen such a sentence including "to"? Can you give an example and a source?
    I can give an example:
    "All I can do is to drink stuff out of a glass and to eat soft foods (that I don't need to chew) like soup and rice."
    Source: http://www.themedicalquestions.com/cancer/what-medical-problems-do-oranges-help2C-if-any.html

    There are not many sentences around when you Google this particular statement: "All I can do is to drink ... ". With respect to similar sentences though, there are many more examples. I would like to see Prower's example sentence as well.

    2) Does it bear only on the sentences with All and do?
    Apart from do also the words help and know can be used with or without the marker to. E.g.:
    Can you help me to paint the fence?
    Can you help me paint the fence?


    Edit: L.G. Alexander in LONGMAN ENGLISH GRAMMAR, published by Longman, page 301 says that "The use of a to-infinitive is more formal:
    Mother helped me (to) do my homework.
    He continues: "We do not usually omit to after not:
    How can I help my children not to worry about their exams?

    Another example of a formal statement: "“What I can’t do is to set the thing up where a whole bunch of things are off the table,” Obama said." Source: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-02-11/obama-agnostic-on-deficit-cuts-won-t-prejudge-tax-increases.html
     
    Last edited:

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I was more concerned about the

    All I can do is (to)

    It is still not clear for me when we should put to
    I don't think I ever put 'to' in this construction, so you'll have to count me out of what 'we' do.

    I am not impressed by one example by somebody or another. There clearly is a school of thought that thinks it is an option, and some people apparently do use 'to'.
    Maybe it is common in some English speaking regions. There are plenty of examples of constructions I think are unacceptable but they are so commonly heard that the usage has to be accepted at some level. It doesn't have to be taught though, or held up as a model or an option, or regarded as 'correct' by educated people.

    An infinitive with 'to' is often used when talking about futures or conditionals. It is just possible that within a context that deals with future hopes, plans and so on, 'to' + infinitive would suitably reflect this aspect of the speaker's language choices.

    In the example given, the writer is talking about present realities.

    Hermione
     

    Prower

    Banned
    Russian
    Hermione Golightly, so at first you were saying that to

    It doesn't have to be taught though, or held up as a model or an option, or regarded as 'correct' by educated people.
    However, at the ending of your post you came to conclusion that all in all it is possible... with - It is just possible that within a context that deals with future hopes -

    Shall we reserve to only for this case?

    If it could be possible for you would you gibe an example with to
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    All of the examples you quote (in post #6) sound strange to me—yes, including the one reportedly quoted from President Obama. I agree with Hermione: I just don't think that "to" belongs in any of them.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    All of the examples you quote (in post #6) sound strange to me—yes, including the one reportedly quoted from President Obama. I agree with Hermione: I just don't think that "to" belongs in any of them.
    Here are more examples: ("[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]"
    " And what we tried to do as much as possible was to accommodate those issues in a way that didn't -- did not hamper the effectiveness of the overall document to address what I think are the core issues related to this crisis."

    "I can tell you that what I've tried to do since I started running for President and since I was sworn in as President, is to communicate the notion that America is a critical actor and leader on the world stage, and that we shouldn't be embarrassed about that, but that we exercise our leadership best when we are listening; when we recognize that the world is a complicated place and that we are going to have to act in partnership with other countries; when we lead by example; when we show some element of humility and recognize that we may not always have the best answer, but we can always encourage the best answer and support the best answer."
    Source: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/barackobama/barackobamag20summitpressconference.htm
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    As far as I am concerned, both variants occur, with or without to.
    The infinitive of a verb is either "xxx" or "to xxx", and I think that one only needs to add to in order to make something easier to understand. I very much doubt whether any rule can be found.

    In a sentence like "All I could do was sit there and watch", it is quite clear that "sit" is the infinitive. But in a long sentence, using the to form of the infitinitive may aid understanding.

    In I can tell you that what I've tried to do since I started running for President and since I was sworn in as President, is to communicate...... I think to is more likely. It's certainly not unusual.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hermione Golightly, so at first you were saying that to


    However, at the ending of your post you came to conclusion that all in all it is possible... with - It is just possible that within a context that deals with future hopes -

    Shall we reserve to only for this case?

    If it could be possible for you would you gibe an example with to
    I think that Hermione Golightly meant the following expressions that deal with futures:
    be to,
    be about to,
    be bound to,
    be going to.
    In your example: "All I can do is drink." one indeed talks about present realities and not about future.
     

    Prower

    Banned
    Russian
    Have no idea what he meant as he didn't give an example. Yours are not full sentences, I can't take them as examples.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    For example take the expression have a drink and you get:
    be to: I am to have a drink after work.
    be about to: I am about to have a drink after work.
    be bound to: I am bound to have a drink after work.
    be going to: I am going to have a drink after work.

    All the example sentences above refer to a future event, while your example sentence "All I can do is drink." without to refers to the present (It is a habitual situation.).
    Apparently, according to Hermione, the sentence "All I can do is to drink." with to could imply a reference to a future event.
     
    Last edited:

    DwestEnola

    New Member
    Chinese
    all i can do is drink.
    in this case, i think drink is expressed as a noun

    all i can do is to drink.
    i think drink is expressed as a verb.
     

    Prower

    Banned
    Russian
    An important point is the word order.

    All I can do is drink = verb+to be+verb

    Yours are different examples.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    An important point is the word order.

    All I can do is drink = verb+to be+verb

    Yours are different examples.
    One could also say: All I can do is X. => (verb + to be + X) All I can do is that I can drink. It is not necessary to repeat I can and we can omit the word that. => All I can do is drink.
    Compare this:
    1. What can you do? ~ I can drink. do => drink
    2. What is it that you can do? ~ It is that I can drink. = What I can do is drink. => All I can do is drink.
     

    Man_from_India

    Senior Member
    India
    One could also say: All I can do is X. => (verb + to be + X) All I can do is that I can drink. It is not necessary to repeat I can and we can omit the word that. => All I can do is drink.
    Compare this:
    1. What can you do? ~ I can drink. do => drink
    2. What is it that you can do? ~ It is that I can drink. = What I can do is drink. => All I can do is drink.

    I completely agree with it. Here "to" is optional, I would still say. This is one way, you showed the reason. I will show you another reason to back my point of view.

    The sentence construction is: Subject + Verb + Object.

    Subject and Object can both be noun as in Tom is a cat.

    All I have to do is equivalent of a noun.
    And you will agree that "verb + ing" i.e Gerund is also euuivalent of a noun.

    So my sentence is:
    All I have to do is drinking.
    I I I
    Noun Verb Noun
    (Subject) (Object)

    We also know that "Verb + ing" is same as "to + Verb"

    So "drinking" and "to drink" is the same.
    So we can rewrite this sentence as follows:

    All I have to do is to drink.

    NOTE: Both form - with "to" or "without "to" - is possible.
    So both sentence is right:
    All I have to do is to drink.
    All I have to do is drink.
    All I have to do is drinking.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    The sentence construction is: Subject + Verb + Object.

    Subject and Object can both be noun as in Tom is a cat.
    MFI, the verb "to be" is a link verb. With link verbs it is difficult to pinpoint objects. It's called a link(ing) verb because it usually links two equally important sentence elements. It connects the sentence subject to something else that is said about it. But as far as I remember, link verbs do not take an object. A link verb is similar to an equal sign between subject and its attributes.

    And you will agree that "verb + ing" i.e Gerund is also euuivalent of a noun.

    So my sentence is:
    All I have to do is drinking.
    Yes, I will agree.
    But I find your example... ungrammatical :(
    So "drinking" and "to drink" is the same.
    Oh, no :p
    Sometimes they are interchangeable, e.g.
    I like to drink. and
    I like drinking.
    But most of the time they are quite different.

    This said, I agree that "to" is optional in the original example, i.e. I agree with your conclusion, but I would never use "to" in such a short sentence. :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top