the most he could do was <to> shield her ...

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thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
The most he could do was to shield her from the uglier details of the Red Wedding as they came down from the Twins.

Excerpt From: George R.R. Martin. “A Storm of Swords.” Bantam. iBooks.

Hi. Is it more common to say just "The most he could do was shield her from ..."?

Thank you.
 
  • thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you both. I think in such construction where “do” precedes he word “be”, the verb after “be” is usually bare infinitive, e.g. Alll he can do is give up.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    They're both common with several similar constructions. Unfortunately it's difficult to search for previous threads.

    'All' type: All he could do was (to) . . .
    'What' type: What you can do is (to) . . .
    Superlative: The best / easiest thing to do is (to) . . .

    Sometimes it might sound slightly better with it or without it, but usually both sound fine.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There seems to be a rule :eek: that the “to” is optional in a subject complement:

    The most he could do was [to] shield her…​

    But only the bare infinitive works in an object complement:

    They let him shield her…​
     
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