Grammar. 21.11.2011
Grammar Teacher

Bare infinitive

Автор: Grammar Teacher

 So far we have looked at such verb forms as GERUND and THE FULL INFINITIVE, so this time I am going to show you how THE BARE INFINITIVE is used. At first let me remind you that THE BARE INFINITIVE is simply a base verb which has no "TO" in front of a verb, like;

Speak (Bare Infinitive)
To speak (To-Infinitive)

It is not used in as many contexts as the full infinitive, but some of them are quite common.

1.  The main use of the bare infinitive is after modal verbs and after the auxiliaries do/did. 

You must come.
They may arrive soon.
Did he pass the exam?

All the modal verbs (except ought) must be followed by a bare infinitive (except in short responses like Yes, I can):

I can/could/may/might/will/shall/should/must leave soon.  

But You ought to forgive her.

The negative is formed by adding NOT before the infinitive:

I cannot/can't go to the party.

2.  We commonly use the imperative form Let's (the contraction of Let us) followed by a bare infinitive when making suggestions for actions that include the speaker:

Let's take a taxi.
Let's not argue about it.

But Let can be followed not only by us:

Let them eat cake. Let there be light. Don't let me interrupt you.

The basic meaning of let is allow (дозволяти). It is always followed by a noun or pronoun before a bare infinitive:

[let + person + verb]

Don't let the children annoy you.
I won't let you ride my bicycle.

3.  Make + noun/pronoun can be followed by a bare infinitive. It means 'force' (змусити) or 'cause' (спричинити):

That beard makes you look much older than you are.
My teacher made me apologize for what I had said.
Did somebody make you wear that ugly hat?

However, in the passive, make in these senses is followed by TO:

He was made to work twenty hours a day.
After the accident we were made to leave the club. 

There are a lot of songs out there with this construction in their lyrics. For example:

The Corrs - What Can I Do:

What can I do to make you love me 
What can I do to make you care 
What can I say to make you feel this 
What can I do to get you there 


Christina Aguilera – Fighter:

'Cause it makes me that much stronger 
Makes me work a little bit harder 
It makes me that much wiser 
So thanks for making me a fighter 
Made me learn a little bit faster 
Made my skin a little bit thicker 
Makes me that much smarter 
So thanks for making me a fighter 

4.  We use the bare infinitive after the expressions ‘would rather/sooner’ and 'had better'

Would rather/sooner expresses our personal or someone else's preference (перевага):

I'd rather work on the land than work in a factory

I'd rather/sooner be a miner than a bank clerk

He'd rather (not) go by car

The expression had better means recommendation. It is stronger than should and ought to. It is used to recommend future action on a particular occasion, not in general:

You had better take some warm clothing.
They had better work harder on their grammar!
We’d better go home now.

Informally, SUBJECT + BETTER often occur without HAD:

You better stop arguing and do as you're told.
You better reserve a room in the hotel.

   5. after Why/Why not? to make suggestion:

I don t like this wallpaper - Then why not change it?
Why not wait till the winter sales to buy a new coat?

6. The verb ‘help’ can be followed by either a to-infinitive or a bare infinitive:

Could you help us to put up a tent? or  Could you help us put up a tent?
Will someone help us to carry our luggage? or Will someone help us carry our luggage?

 The bare infinitive or '-ing' after verbs of perception?

By the verbs of perception we mean such verbs as see, notice, watch, hear, smell, feel etc. These can be followed by either the bare infinitive or the ing-form:

I saw my friend run down the street.
I saw my friend running down the street.

There is often little difference in meaning between these two forms except that the –ing form usually gives the idea of “while”:

I saw my friend while she was running down the street.   

So the usage of the –ing form gives the idea that an activity is in progress when it is perceived.

When I walked in the apartment, I heard my roommate singing in the shower (The action was probably in progress when I arrived).

The bare infinitive generally refers to the complete action (завершена дія):

I heard a famous opera singer sing at the concert last night (I heard the singing from beginning to end).

For a series of actions, we prefer the bare infinitive:

The crowd watched the fireman climb the ladder, break a window on the first floor, and enter the building. 

And now to practice these forms and not only, go to this page -

Any questions to your Grammar Teacher? Fell free to ask!!







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