Questions about verbs in their basic (unmarked) forms, such as “be”, “do”, “have”, or “sit”, sometimes introduced by the particle “to” and other times used by itself.

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32
votes
8answers
4k views

What is the infinitive of “can”?

Like the title says: I don't think "to can" is right :) I mean "can" as in to be able to. I'm aware of other meanings. I can't find the answer here. (There's What is an "infinitive"? which ...
22
votes
10answers
31k views

What is the correct way to use infinitive after the verb “help”: with or without “to”?

What is the correct way to use infinitive after the verb "help": with or without "to"? For example: Please, help me to understand this. or: Please, help me understand this.
20
votes
7answers
11k views

Order of “not” with infinitive

This is one thing that keeps bugging me, and maybe there's a direct answer. Grammatically, which one is more correct of these two? Does it make a difference? I tried not to do that. I tried ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

Are split infinitives grammatically incorrect, or are they valid constructs?

Mark's generosity in this crisis seems to more than make up for his earlier stinginess. Should those sentences always be avoided, or are there cases where they are valid?
14
votes
1answer
5k views

When should a verb be followed by a gerund instead of an infinitive?

Some verbs are followed by ing, e.g. I enjoy swimming. We can't say I enjoy to swim. Likewise, some verbs are followed by to, e.g. I decided to make a plan. Which particular verbs are followed by ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

“He recommended that they are separated” - is this valid?

I've seen and heard this kind of construction several times now and it always bugs me. When someone recommends something, surely the verb used in the subclause should be infinitive, so: He ...
13
votes
4answers
318 views

“Be” as an action rather than a state

I’ve heard, on rare occasion, a subtle differentiation between be as a state (to passively embody) and be as an action (to actively embody). The latter form often occurs in parallel with do to add ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Past tense and “rather than”

I found myself with a sentence like this, using "accept" in the infinitive form after "rather than": They left the club, rather than accept the terms. But I'm unsure of its grammatical ...
11
votes
2answers
37k views

How to use “to + V-ing”?

I saw some scenarios that used the structure "to + V-ing", such as the following: Looking forward to hearing. Disposed to using few words. I would like to apply what I learned in school to helping ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Using “to” twice in a row

In the sentence "Who should I talk to to learn about that?" my grammar checker says I have a repeated word. I admit that it sounds a little awkward, but I'm not sure it's incorrect. I realize I could ...
10
votes
4answers
17k views

“I like to do (be) something” vs “I like doing (being) something”

This is what I read in an answer to a previous question: Verbs Followed by Either Gerund or Infinitive Sometimes the meaning changes according to the verb used. <…> (dis)like ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Dare + have done

Here is an example from an old book. I know it’s old but it can’t be simply discarded, I hope. "I never dare have spoken — never dare have told you that my love for you was killing me" So, I ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

“Important that John bring/brings” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use the subjunctive mood? Given the sentence John brings his lunch to school, is it correct to say It is important that John brings his lunch to ...
8
votes
3answers
359 views

Is it appropriate to omit “to” after “ought”?

Is it appropriate to omit to after ought? I ought to be disciplined for my insolence. Vs. I ought be disciplined for my insolence. Is it okay to omit the to?
8
votes
0answers
407 views

Infinitive without “to”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the correct way to use infinitive after the verb “help”: with or without “to”? Today I found this headline on bbc.co.uk How one ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

“I am thinking to invest” or “I am thinking investing”?

Which of the following sentences is correct? I am thinking to invest in stocks. I am thinking investing into stocks.
7
votes
2answers
986 views

Consecutive infinitives

Is there a rule governing when it is acceptable to position two infinitives in a row? E.g.: The witness plans to refuse to testify.
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Infinitives with “ought not”

Most of the references I can find about the word “ought” indicate that even when negating it, you should use an infinitive: “You ought not to go there.” That sounds quite bad ...
7
votes
3answers
994 views

Help identifying an error type “tried to help me learning”

I have a friend from Russia who is trying to learn English and recently used the sentence "He tried to help me learning..." (implied: the English language) It is obviously wrong and I corrected it ...
6
votes
1answer
6k views

“Stop working” vs “stopped to work”

I want to know, is there any difference between "stop + v.(ing)" and "stopped to + v.". These are example sentences. I stop working for a month. vs I stopped to work for a month. I stop watching ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

“I love to [verb]” vs “I love [gerund]” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: Catenatives followed by infinitives and gerunds “I like to do (be) something” vs “I like doing (being) something” What is the difference between "I love to sing" and ...
6
votes
1answer
187 views

Do I need a “to” for a second infinitive in a sentence?

It was common practice to first test and execute a program's source code by hand before using a computer. It was common practice to first test and to execute a program's source code by hand ...
6
votes
4answers
452 views

Usage of “to find (noun) (adj)”

I am a native speaker of German, and I often see the English verb find being used like its German cognate finden. For example: My students and I find your platform very useful and very appealing ...
6
votes
2answers
372 views

“It is fun to write letters” vs. “It is fun writing letters”

Grammatically, "It is fun to write English letters." is correct. But is the following also grammatically correct? It is fun writing English letters.
5
votes
3answers
260 views

'Should've seen it glow' or 'should've seen it glowing'?

Which one of the following is the correct one? I should have seen it glow. I should have seen it glowing. Or are both correct? Would you parse them please?
5
votes
1answer
359 views

Why was _to_ verb_+ing_ used in this case? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to use “to + V-ing”? “To hear” or “to hearing”? Samson had been a strong man prior to having his hair cut. From a grammatical point of view, when ...
5
votes
3answers
933 views

Infinitive without to: The first thing I do is open my eyes

I have not been able to find an explanation for this use of an infinitive without to: The first thing I do in the morning is go to the bathroom. The first thing I do in the morning is open my ...
5
votes
4answers
695 views

Catenatives followed by infinitives and gerunds

I was wondering if anyone could please help me with this. What is the difference in meaning when the catenative verb “like” is followed by an infinitive, or by a gerund? For example: Do you like ski ...
5
votes
4answers
4k views

What is an “infinitive”?

I've heard that a verb usually follows the 'infinitive' but how does one define an 'infinitive'?
5
votes
2answers
154 views

Should “portray” be paired with “to be”?

Is it acceptable to pair "portray" with "to be"? As in The novel portrays life to be a... Would it be better to use as?
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Is 'I would rather…' without an infinitive immediately following it correct?

Consider: I would rather the walls remain painted in a neutral tint. Is this proper use of 'I would rather..', without an infinitive immediately following it? EDIT This suggests that 'I would ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

'To' vs 'in order to' in negative clauses

The answers to this related question suggest that to and in order to are pretty much interchangeable, the former being preferred in informal contexts. My question is about negative clauses. ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I know when a verb should be followed by a gerund or an infinitive?

A few weeks ago I posted a question about the usage of a verbal in a particular sentence. But now, I have another question on the same topic, gerund. Sometimes I don't know for sure if I need to use ...
4
votes
3answers
309 views

'To swiftly go' or 'to go swiftly'? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are split infinitives grammatically incorrect, or are they valid constructs? One of my friends once told me 'to go' is considered a whole word and no word should be put ...
4
votes
1answer
961 views

Difference between 'decided on' and 'decided to'?

Examples: I have decided on a blue carpet for the bedroom. I have decided to emigrate to Australia. What exactly is the difference between "decided on" and "decided to"? Is the usage simply based on ...
4
votes
4answers
344 views

Do I have to use the auxiliary before all the verbs?

Which of the following is correct? I will dance and sing at the concert tonight. I will dance and will sing at the concert tonight. Does it happen with to, too? For example: I ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

“How best to handle” vs. “how to best handle”

Are there rules on the placement of 'best'? They are deciding how to best handle the matter. They are deciding how best to handle the matter. Is one of them wrong?
4
votes
3answers
342 views

What causes a verb to be infinitive only?

Why are some verbs only usable in the infinitive? The one example I can think of is "to spite" (see "to wit in the accepted answer). While wiktionary claims that spited is a word, that doesn't match ...
4
votes
5answers
651 views

Why are present participle and infinitive equally acceptable for some verbs, but not others

This question about "started teaching/to teach" made me realise that even though the present participle and infinitive are both acceptable after "started", that's not the case with other superficially ...
4
votes
2answers
306 views

Omitting the last “to” in “All {I need to / have to / must} do is (to?) do something” [duplicate]

I remember I learned a structure like the one that this post’s title mentions: All I {need to do | have to do | must do} is do something. But is it correct to use "to do something" after the ...
4
votes
1answer
557 views

“Help rule out” vs. “help to rule out” [duplicate]

Duplicate of: What is the correct way to use infinitive after the verb “help”: with or without “to”? “Could help avoid” vs. “could help to avoid” “Helping you do ...
4
votes
3answers
376 views

How to remember the difference between: “Can you try to open this jar?” and “Can you try opening this jar?”

I am well aware that a similar question has been asked in the past, namely “Try to save” or “try saving”. However, I am not totally satisfied by the posted answers. My problem is that, every time I ...
4
votes
1answer
596 views

The choice between the gerund and the infinitive in a certain construction

I am pretty much sure that for native speakers the issue I am going to bring up might look as an uncalled question as they can easily figure out which form of a verbal part of speech should be used, ...
4
votes
2answers
477 views

Infinitive form in reported commands

I know that "I tried not to do that" and "I tried to not do that" are both valid sentences grammatically speaking. But can the second construction be applied to reported commands? Is it correct to ...
4
votes
2answers
102 views

Infinitive Clause For “Curious”

I need some help about the infinitive clause that comes after "curious". Let's say that I am "curious" about a locked room. Then, could I write this: I am curious to open the door. I ...
4
votes
1answer
397 views

Is using split infinitive allowed in formal English? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are split infinitives grammatically incorrect, or are they valid constructs? Is it allowed to use split infinitives in formal English? I look into Wikipedia but it is ...
4
votes
3answers
388 views

Usage of consecutive infinitives of purpose

Is it possible to modify an infinitive of purpose with another infinitive of purpose if the action of the first one is not yet carried out? Ex. Jack brought beans home to give to his mother to plant ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

“I don't bother to do” vs “I don't bother doing”

Which one of these sentences is correct? I don't bother to study. I don't bother studying.
4
votes
1answer
276 views

Why do these verbs take bare infinitives?

[a] It makes the tree grow. [b] I never heard him speak. I’m wondering why causative and sense verbs (make, hear) license bare infinitives for their complement, instead of taking to infinitives? ...
4
votes
3answers
86 views

“To not” vs. “not to” [duplicate]

A little bit of context, I read the sentence below after the system - a computer application - has been subject to a certain kind of update: The system will be able to not create a record of that ...