bare infinitive in place of to-infinitive


Senior Member
Would anyone give me an example in which bare infinitive can be used
where to-infinive used to be or should be?

I have collected two:

All I did was touch it.

The law of the street is take or be taken.
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    The two examples you listed don't seem to be congruent.

    The second could be rewritten. The law of the street is "Take or be taken." In the case of that, a similar example might be: Be careful, it's a "dog eat dog" world.


    Senior Member
    Scotland, English
    How about:

    "I can do that (etc.)"
    "I would/will go there"

    i.e. examples of auxiliary+ infinitive.


    New Member
    UK English
    Hi Ocham,
    I replied earlier but since I made the dreadful mistake of saying hello in Japanese someone deleted the whole message.
    Anyway, I had a couple of examples for you:
    'Help' can be used with or without 'to' e.g. 'she helped me cook the dinner'
    The same is true of 'let' e.g. 'he let me drive his car'.
    Hope this helps.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    The bare infinitive is used after a few verbs including may, will, can, must, do.

    All I did was touch it.
    I think that this is an ellipsis (contraction) of All I did was that I did touch it - bare infinitive after did.

    The law of the street is take or be taken.
    Here take and be taken are not infinitives: they are imperatives.


    Senior Member
    We can also use bare infinitives when we list them ( just the first verb is a to-infinitive) e.g. Tomorrow I'd like to get up early, have a shower and do the shopping.
    And "When two infinitive structures are joined by and, or, except, but, than, as or like, then the second is often without to:
    I'd like to lie down and go to sleep.
    Do you want to have lunch now or wait till later. ...
    " Source: Swan's Practical English Grammar.
    Except for the famous Hamlet's line:
    "... To die, to sleep;
    To sleep: perchance to dream ..."
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