Form[edit | edit source]
The bare infinitive is used:
- as the main verb after auxiliary do do, e.g. "eat" in “Do you eat pizza?"
- as the main verb after a full modal verb: “I will eat" (not *“I will to eat");
- With some semi-modal verbs:
- with why: “Why do it later?" (not *Why to do it later?)
- with causative verbs let and make; I made him eat.
- with verbs of perception in the active voice, e.g. I saw him enter the room.
Pedagogy[edit | edit source]
In English, the bare infinitive is the exception rather than the default; the to-infinitive is the default. Consequently, the exceptions listed above have to be acquired (or learnt) as exceptions. EFL learners will often make errors by substituting the to-infinitive, particularly after let and make.
Unfortunately, in pedagogical grammar, verbs are sometimes referred to as “bare infinitives" despite their being finite verbs (i.e. possessing a subject), and therefore categorically NOT infinitives. For example, in “I eat pizza", "eat" has a subject (“I") and is finite and not an infinitive.