I came upon the phrase, "writing helps develop a child analytically thinking." Is this grammatically correct? Is it OK to use just develop instead of to develop?
There's nothing inherently wrong with Writing helps develop ...; but a child analytically thinking is strained and at the first glance opaque.
A child's thinking analytically makes the relationship between the child and the thinking clearer, but it leaves it uncertain whether analytically modifies thinking or helps. I'd rewrite something like this:
Writing helps develop a child's ability to think analytically.
Or it may be that what you really mean is:
Writing helps a child develop the ability to think analytically.
But I'm a writer; so I'd attribute the writing definitively to the child, and there'd be no help about it:
A child who writes develops the ability to think analytically.
I am asked to substantiate my contention that ‘helps develop is OK’ in the face of an alternative contention that this use is “technically incorrect” and a challenge to “find a piece of writing prior to the 19th century that uses this clause. You simply cannot verb a verb.”
Well, of course you can verb a verb. I just did: catenation with the bare infinitive is mandatory with the full modals. It is also permitted with semi-modals such as need, dare and do. And usage on the ground demonstrates that help must be be included with these.
I don’t believe for a minute that “correct” contemporary usage is determined by the standards of the 18th and earlier centuries; but for what it’s worth, OED (fasc. Heel-Hod, 1898) remarks that “the infinitive normally has to, which however from 16th c. is often omitted”; it offers examples from Nicholas Udall (“To helpe garnishe his mother tongue”) and Chapman’s translation of Homer (1616), which so moved Keats (“Many helpfull men, That..would then Helpe beare his mightie seuen-fold shield”). To be sure, it goes on to say that “this is now dial. or vulgar”; but the 1987 Supplement explicitly rescinds this characterization, and says instead that “this is now a common colloq. form.”
In fact, it is not merely “colloquial”; it is today perfectly acceptable in the stuffiest academic writing, as the following citations demonstrate:
Alan Warwick Palmer. The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire. 1994. Meanwhile, on the Salonika Front in the Balkans, the British divisions serving in General Franchet d'Esperey's multinational army would help defeat Germany's ally, Bulgaria …
Gerald R. Ford. “Special Message to Congress Urging Action on Pending Legislation”. July 22, 1976. The Administration believes that the Federal Government has a responsibility to help pay the cost of educating their children, but not to help pay the costs of other children whose parents pay local property taxes.
M.D. Rugg. Cognitive Neuroscience. 1997. Formalizing the theories will help show whether any differences are fundamental or terminological.
David Bloor. Knowledge and Social Imagery. 1991 [The history of mathematics] must help show how thoughts are produced and how they achieve, keep and lose the status of knowledge.
Jean O. Charney. A Grammar of Comanche. 1993. Such a rendering will help demonstrate how reference is maintained in Comanche subordination.
And perhaps of most interest to the immediate question:
Marcia Popp. Teaching Language and Literature in Elementary Classrooms. 1996. When students help develop criteria for evaluating writing, they look more closely at their own and others' work.
It should be "helps to develop" or "helps the development of." The phrase "helps develop" is grammatically incorrect because its demonstrates something performing an action on a verb. For instance, you can't jump an eat. However, the pattern of "helps (verb)" is very common, so much that the technical incorrectness of it will almost always go unnoticed.