to help bring

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How come one can say "to help bring an end" instead of saying "to help TO bring an end", once the rule says that you are supposed to separte two verbs with "to"?

to help bring asked Jul 08 '13 at 15:33 Henriette New member

5 answers


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"to help bring an end" has an implied "to" instead of the stated "to" in your example of "to help to bring an end."  Whether or not the "to" between the two verbs is actually stated, it's still grammatically there, so it does comply with the "rule."

 

An example of the rule is "to try to read" instead of what a lot of people say, "to try and read."

link comment answered Jul 09 '13 at 02:47 Dr. G Contributor
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The sentence you use is an example of the flexibility of spoken English and informal register more than a demonstration of a grammatical principle. The simple rule is that the verb 'help' takes an object in 'bring', and this object has to either be a gerund [bringing] or an infinitive [to bring]. The choice for either depends on the verb 'help' - the 'first verb' or the 'main verb'. In this case, it needs to be an infinitive - 'bring' is a base form, so it is incorrect.

link comment answered Jul 09 '13 at 02:37 Ahmad Barnard Expert
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Ahmad's answer is a bit confusing (his comments about "The choice for either depends on the verb 'help' - the 'first verb' or the 'main verb'" make no sense, and Dr. G's answer doesn't quite go far enough but is correct when he/she talks about the verb help (his comments about try are a different, completely unrelated grammar topic).

 

The verb help can be followed by an object and a verb in base form (the infinitive without to) or in infinitive form (to plus base verb).  For example, both Can you help me finish? and Can you help me to finish? are both correct.  

 

But your example sentence does not contain an object + verb. (Ahmad was a little confused on that point.)  The phrase to help bring an end is a verb followed by a base verb.  There is no object.  For this pattern, it is perfectly acceptable, and preferred, to use the help + base verb pattern.  The help + infinitive verb pattern is non-standard but is not considered to be a grammar mistake.

 

I hope this helps clear up the confusion.  (Did you notice I used the help + base verb pattern in that last sentence?) 

link comment answered Jul 09 '13 at 14:00 Shawn Mooney Expert
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Shawn - you forgot to actually pay attention to my argument in your eagerness to offer critique.  I will highlight my argument:

 

1)  The verb 'help' [like the verb 'hope', for example] is followed by an infinitive and not by a gerund.  Surely you are familiar with the rules of verbs that are followed either by an infinitive or a gerund, or those verbs that can take both infinitive and gerund.  The verb 'help' is followed by an infinitive.  Point number 1.  You suggest that this point makes "no sense". that's an astounding assertion, to say the least.

 

2)  I suggested that using a 'bare infinitive' [in the example above: 'bring' and not 'to bring'] is an example of a more informal usage.  Here is another reference that supports what I said:

 

http://oilpatchwriting.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/help-plus-infinitive/   [italics and bold print are mine]

 

They are both acceptable, with the version lacking the word “to” a bit more informal.  In the “help me be” example, the word “be” is called a “bare infinitive,” which means it doesn’t have the customary “to” in front of it. Help is a verb that can be used with or without the “to” and with or without an object before the infinitive (help me be). To be or not to be, that is a “to-infinitive.”  The verb help can be followed by an object and a verb in base form (the infinitive without to) or in infinitive form (to plus base verb).  For example, both Can you help me finish? and Can you help me to finish? are both correct. 

 

You then offer a solution by introducing the structure: modal verb + base form + indirect object + object.  Interestingly, this actually has absolutely nothing to do with what we are discussing.  Here is Henriette's question again:

 

How come one can say "to help bring an end" instead of saying "to help TO bring an end", once the rule says that you are supposed to separte two verbs with "to"?

 

You will see that the structure we are discussing is: infinitive + infinitive vs infinitive + bare infinitive.  My argument was that the structure infinitive + bare infinitive is acceptable, but as an example of more informal usage - infinitive + infinitive is better.  Your introduction of a modal verb changes the whole context of the verb 'help', doesn't it?  Ditto for your introduction of an indirect object.  So, no, Ahmad was not "a little confused on that point". In fact, quite the contrary.

 

Summary - one can use either the infinitive or the bare infinitive after the verb 'help'; the former is more formal, and the latter is more informal.  From what I read in forums on the www, it seems the preference for the bare infinitive is American.

link comment answered Jul 11 '13 at 02:50 Ahmad Barnard Expert
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I think we can answer this question in very simple words. I agree to the rule that we are supposed to separate two verbs with "to", but we should remember that there are always some exceptions in regard to the grammar. In the use of the verb "help" the grammar says that we can use or leave out "to" before the next verb. So we must take it for granted that whether we say "to help to bring an end" or "to help bring an end" makes no difference.

link comment answered Aug 06 at 19:06 Aslam Khan New member

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