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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.
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    This question is better suited for our sister site, ELL or English Language Learners. A site dedicated to people who would like to improve their level and understanding of English. – Mari-Lou A Sep 14 '13 at 8:05
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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? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 14 '13 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. – Barrie England Sep 15 '13 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.) – Edwin Ashworth Sep 15 '13 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. – Barrie England Sep 15 '13 at 9:04

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