The Zero Infinitive | Grammar Rules and Examples

Learn how to use the zero infinitive (the bare infinitive) in English with rules and examples.

What is the Zero Infinitive?

The zero (bare) infinitive is a type of complement with an infinitive verb form that’s not preceded by the particle to. Also known as the bare infinitive.

Uses of the Zero Infinitive

After Modal Auxiliary Verbs

Will, shall, would, could, can (but not be able to), may, might, must (but not have to), should (but not ought to), and needn’t, (but not need to, which behaves like a normal verb).

Examples:

My sister could play the piano when she was five.

You must get up earlier in the morning. 

I wonder if I might have some more soup.

After the Object after Certain Verbs, such as hear, see, make, let

Examples:

He saw her fall from the cliff.

 She made her kids tidy their beds.

Mary let me use her new laptop.

After Verbal Idioms would rather and had better

Examples:

I’d rather stay at home than go out tonight.

 It’s cold. The children had better wear their coats.

Used with Why

The question word why is followed by the zero infinitive when making suggestions.

Examples:

Why wait until tomorrow?

Why leave before the end of the match?

Why not buy a new car?

The Zero Infinitive | Images

The Zero Infinitive | Grammar Rules and Examples

The Zero Infinitive | Grammar Rules and Examples

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