Dirty, sexy, grammar – bare infinitives

by Julie Frayn on May 22, 2012 in  Dirty, Sexy, Grammar

It’s time to share a little grammar for the nudists among us.

A full (or to-) infinitive is a verb that follows “to.” A bare infinitive is the base form of a verb. It is ‘to’ bare. As opposed to too bare. It is infinitely naked, so inherently sexy. You know, because it never ages, never sags, never bloats. Because it is words. Get it? Can I move on now? Wait, let me put on an over-sized sweater and stretchy pants.

In many cases, bare infinitives work like a charm, eliminating the unnecessary ‘to’ and streamlining your text. Naked writing is the best writing, yes?

To-infinitive:         Help me to open the wine

Bare infinitive:     Help me open the wine

To-infinitive:         Help me to reach orgasm

Bare infinitive:     Help me reach orgasm

To-infinitive:        To boldly go (a split full infinitive with a naughty ly adverb)

Bare infinitive:      Boldly go (not split because there is no “to” from which to split the infinitive with an adverb).

While that is all well and good, there are instances where the bare infinitive is simply inappropriate. We need to dress that baby with a little to-to. Or just one to.

Bare infinitive:      Be or not be

To-Infinitive:         To be or not to be

Bare infinitive:      Know me is love me

To-infinitive:         To know me is to love me

I call inappropriate bare infinitives “Yoda infinitives.” You can make any sentence Yoda-worthy by baring all infinitives, and doing a little clause swapping. Again, words people. No weird swinging going on here with Santa and the Jedi Master.

As with all of my grammar lessons, there is much more to this topic than I choose to share here. Like the fact that bare infinitives should be used with causative verbs (have, make, let) and modal verbs (except, ought). I have dropped its pants, stripped it down, and shared only the bare essentials.

Aren’t you glad I didn’t post pictures?

You are welcome.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sean P. Farley May 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I had no idea such a thing existed. I learn something new everyday! :)


Julie May 23, 2012 at 6:37 am

Glad to be of grammarly service…

Sheila May 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm

You sure make grammar lessons sexy and fun! This is just fantabulous!


Julie May 23, 2012 at 6:38 am

I love it when a post prompts comments with made up words! Fantabulous is one of my faves. Thanks, lady!

Heather May 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm

This post is hysterical. Love it.


Julie May 23, 2012 at 6:39 am

If I can make a funny chick laugh, then it is a very good day. 😀

Mikalee Byerman May 23, 2012 at 8:13 am

Wow. I need a cigarette.



Julie May 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Sorry, I don’t smoke. Cigarettes I mean…

tricia May 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm

You know- I always thought I was a grammar nut who loves “Eats, Shoots, And Leaves” for recreational reading- but I see that I know so very little after reading this brilliant post. :)


Julie May 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Aw, thanks. I figure if grammar is going to be recreational, it better deliver!

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