Is there any differnce in the meanings and/or nuances between the following two sentences?

  1. Exercise helps to live longer.
  2. Exercise helps live longer.
  • 2
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    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 8:05

1 Answer 1


Neither is grammatical, because, in such sentences, help needs a direct object, such as people or you. However, I assume your question is about whether there is any difference between help being followed by a to infinitive (to live) and help being followed by a bare infinitive (live). The answer to that is that help is one of the few verbs which allow both, with no change in meaning.

  • I'll risk being caught asking for a list: do you know of any others? Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 23:05
  • It can also occur after had better and would rather, and after the object of the verbs make, see, hear and let. Additionally, it is found in constructions like What I’ve done is choose only the best answers and All I did was open the door, and after rather . . . than, as in I’d rather go hungry than live on charity. Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 7:05
  • Sorry, Barrie, are you saying that all these can catenate (with possible intervening objects) with both bare infinitives and to-infinitives? I'm not finding Ngram support for "would rather to verb ", and I don't recognise the expression myself. Thanks for the other examples ('John was heard to say...' is clearly fine whereas the bare infinitive sounds unnatural to me, although the situation is the other way round for 'I heard John say...'. Crazy language.) Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 8:50
  • Ah, no. I misread your comment - and my own answer! Clearly, would rather cannot be followed by both the to- infinitive and the bare infinitive. Why there’s a difference between the passive (‘was heard to say’) and the active ('I heard John say’) needs more investigation. Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 9:04

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