Is it correct not to place the infinitive form ("to") after modal verbs (can, could, may, might, will, shall, should, ought to, must/ have to and would:

May: May I help you
Might I might go with you if you want to
will: Will you help me?
Shall: Shall I open the door?
Should: You should go to hospital.
Ought: You ought to be afraid of dark.
Must: Must I wear that blouse?
Would: Would you help me carry these books?
Could: Could you speak to Mark about yesterday?

There are also semi-modal verbs( to need and to dare)

Need:Need you some help or do you need some help?
Dare: Dare you challenge me or Do you dare to challenge me?

Thank you, indeed!

  • That's correct. The modal auxiliaries take bare infinitival complements ("must go", not *"must to go"). "Need" are "dare" can be either auxiliary or lexical verbs. As auxiliaries, they take bare infinitival complements ("Dare they do it"? / "Need we tell anyone?"), but as lexical verbs they take to- infinitival complements ("Do we need to tell anyone?" / "I didn't dare to tell anyone")
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 20:24

1 Answer 1


With one exception all of your examples are questions, and in the case of questions it is generally unnecessary to use the infinitive. However, notice the sentence that is a statement "You ought to be afraid of the dark" includes the infinitive to be as it should.

  • 1
    It makes no difference whether the clause is declarative or interrogative (a question). With just the odd exception like "ought", which takes a to infinitival, modals take bare infinitival complements in virtually all instances. For example, "Must we go to church"? is a question and "go" is a bare infinitival verb.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 20:20

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