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Given the following sentence: 'I don't trust you' - what's the proper way to end the following reply:'It's time you started' or 'It's time you started to'? Is there a rule governing the inclusion/omission of 'to'?

  • I think this is purely idiomatic and there isn't a rule. "It's time you started" is right; but in an expression of intention like "I'm going to [do something]" you do need the to. – Andrew Leach May 30 '13 at 16:18
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Both are reasonable.

The general rule about any omission is does it easily lead to mis-understanding or undesirable ambiguity.

It's time you started.

Clear what is meant.

It's time you started to.

Clear what is meant.

*It's time you started to trust.

Incorrect omission as it stands as its own statement too strongly to indicate anything was omitted. (Though that could well make it an even better statement, depending on why they don't trust you).

*It's time you.

Incorrect, leaves you hanging, "time I what?" Too little included to be clear that you are answering the previous statement and omitting something.

*It's time.

Combines the problems with both the previous bad examples.

  • I disagree with your first example. Despite what the other speaker said, it still leaves me wondering started to ... what?. I would say that only the second example is acceptable. I can't readily explain this, but possibly it's because the first person said the words trust you, so those words (with the obvious inversion of you to me) implicitly complete the expression It's time you started to, but the to wasn't said by the first speaker so the second needs to add it. I think I would understand the first - after a pause for thought - but the second wouldn't need that pause. – TrevorD May 31 '13 at 11:56

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