Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

May I know which sentence is grammatical?

I am not sure whether we need to repeat the "to".

The method helps to improve the quality of the software, shorten the time to market, and lower production costs.

The method helps to improve the quality of the software, to shorten the time to market, and to lower production costs.

share|improve this question
    
Your first and third sub-clauses are the same! I have taken the liberty of making an arbitrary change to the third one; if you don't like this, or you have a better way of changing it, you may do so with the 'edit' button below your question. –  StoneyB Mar 14 at 16:57

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Deleting to in your second and third sub-clauses is permissible (but not required).

I suggest that you should be guided in your choice of including or deleting the to by the complexity of your sub-clauses. In this case, the sub-clauses are fairly short, so it’s easy for the reader to keep the commanding verb help in mind from one sub-clause to the next; you can readily drop the to. When the clauses are heavier or more complex, the to should be retained, to remind the reader of the construction:

The methods helps to improve the quality of the software (often quite substantially) to shorten the time to market (in our experience, by several weeks), and to lower production costs (by a factor of 15%-20%).


In fact, it can be deleted in the first phrase as well, since help may be used with both a bare infinitive and a marked infinitive.

The method helps improve the quality of the software.

Note that this is true specifically with help - some other verbs require one or the other. Want, for instance, requires the marked infinitive: *I want to improve the quality of the software.)

share|improve this answer

Both lines are grammatically correct. I prefer the first. As a matter of fact, you can delete the first "to" in the first line. As a very general rule, particularly when writing things of a technical nature, the fewer words it takes to get a point across, the better.

You've repeated the phrase "improve the quality of software", I assume that was in error or just a filler to emphasize the question? EDIT: StoneyB fixed it!

share|improve this answer

This question already has good answers, but I thought I'd type up another way to think about it.


Sentence one

Let's pretend you're starting with these three sentences:

​1. The method helps to improve the quality of the software.
​2. The method helps to shorten the time to market.
​3. The method helps to lower production costs.

We'll join them with and:

​the method helps to improve the quality of the software,
​the method helps to shorten the time to market,      and
​the method helps to lower production costs.

But we're repeating more things that we need to.

We can get rid of the method:

​the method helps to improve the quality of the software,
the method helps to shorten the time to market,      and
the method helps to lower production costs.

We can get rid of the method helps:

​the method helps to improve the quality of the software,
the method helps to shorten the time to market,      and
the method helps to lower production costs.

Or we can get rid of the method helps to:

​the method helps to improve the quality of the software,
the method helps to shorten the time to market,      and
the method helps to lower production costs.


Sentence two

As the other answers say, you can even get rid of the first to. Why? Because help is one of the few verbs that takes either a to-infinitival or bare infinitival complement. In other words, you can either help to do something or help do something.

But if we get rid of to in your example, we're starting with a different set of sentences:

​1. The method helps improve the quality of the software.
​2. The method helps shorten the time to market.
​3. The method helps lower production costs.

Let's join them with and again:

​the method helps improve the quality of the software,
​the method helps shorten the time to market,      and
​the method helps lower production costs.

Now let's get rid of the method:

​the method helps improve the quality of the software,
​the method helps shorten the time to market,      and
​the method helps lower production costs.

We can get rid of helps, too:

​the method helps improve the quality of the software,
​the method helps shorten the time to market,      and
​the method helps lower production costs.

And now we're done! We have the shorter sentence that Jolenealaska recommends.

share|improve this answer
1  
Note: You should capitalize the first letter of each sentence. I didn't in my examples because I wanted the phrases to line up vertically :-) –  snailplane Mar 15 at 1:43

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.