But you promised (to). (Reduced infinitive)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sibu, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. sibu Senior Member

    I am wondering whether the preposition "to" at the end of the following sentences can also be left out:

    1. Did you post my letter? - Oh, sorry, I forgot (to).
    2. I can't go out with you this evening. Sorry. - Oh, but you promised (to).
    3. Why did you email your mother again? - Because she asked me (to).
    4. Do you think you'll apply for that job? - Yes, I've definitely decided (to).

    If to can be left out, is there any difference in style?
  2. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    This is a difficult one (for me anyway). I would say that for 1, 2 and 3 you can omit the "to" but that 4. requires it to remain. Why? I can't pinpoint the reason at the moment.

    As far as the first three are concerned, I would say that the emphasis is subtly different. The flow of the sentence definitely is: I would say that the "to" allows the voice to return to its normal pitch.

    The more I think about this, the less I really understand it. :confused:

    Maybe someone else can explain clearer.
  3. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    Often - but not always - that final "to" can be left off.

    1. Either "forgot" or "forgot to" works here, and the sentences mean exactly the same thing.
    2. Either "promised" or "promised to" works here as well.
    3. Here I think you need the "to" - otherwise, it's not clear what she asked for.
    4. And here again, I think you need the "to," because without it, it's not clear what you decided.
  4. sibu Senior Member

    Thanks for these comments. 1+2 were my guesses too, but I was hoping there would be some rule or pattern to hold on to.
  5. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    If there is a pattern - and there may be - I'm not aware of it. I think you simply have to look at what you're saying. If it's clear without the "to," you can leave it off. If it's not, you shouldn't. As far as I know, that's the way it is.

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