"All I had to do was" + Infinitive or bare infinitive?

< Previous | Next >

richardus

Banned
Mexico spanish
I have this doubt, do I have to use infinitive (to + verb) or bare infinitive after "All I have/had to do is/was..."???

So, should I say "All I had to do was to read it" or "All I had to do was read it"?

I have been searching for examples on the net, but both patterns seem to be equally common!! Perhaps both of them are right? Is one of them more formal?

Thank you.
 
  • mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    No, both are not correct in this context. You should definitely say:

    "All I had to do was read it".

    In fact, I'm curious to see some of the examples of using the infinitive in similar circumstances as this from the internet.
     

    richardus

    Banned
    Mexico spanish
    Thank you for your reply.
    I have been searching on google, and here are some examples:

    I guess all I had to do was be engaged
    All I had to do was interpret it
    all I had to do was change the init script
    All I had to do was to attend the language courses
    All I had to do was to introduce it
    for all I had to do was to trace up the leaking
    all I had to do was to wait for October 3

    etc.

    So, only the bare infinitive is right??
     

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    What you must be careful about is the verb they are using. There is a difference between "to have" and "to have to":

    (to have to) All I had to do was go to the last day of school, and then I was free.= All I was required to do was...

    (to have) All I had to do was to stare at the wall while I was in jail. = The only thing I had to do was..." (Staring at the wall was the only thing available to me to do.)

    Now that I've written it out as such, I've begun to question the usage of "to" in each of these examples as well. To me, personally, they would both make sense without "to", but that is not to say that is correct. My feeling is that the "to" makes more sense in the second sentence with the verb "to have". But, I'll have to wait for other responses for confirmation.
     

    richardus

    Banned
    Mexico spanish
    I think I began to understand it a little.
    So, when there is an obligation or requirement, I should write with to, and when the verb expresses simply existence, it should be without it... am I right?

    Thank you again.
     

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    Other way around, no "to" for requirement and with "to" for existence. Again, though, I'm not sure about the official, grammatically correct structure, these are only what sounds most natural to me.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top