This is going to be silly but I know some people who don't really leave the house for anything but groceries. It's impossible to hang out with them because they just sit around at home and the only thing they leave the house for are groceries. Today I told a friend about them and said

all they do is getting groceries

and would like to know if it's right to use the continuous form.

Other sentences that follow the same pattern:

All they can do is cut/cutting them down

All he/she is able to do is yell/yelling at people

I think you guys get the picture.

  • I don't think I'd put the second part in continuous without the first part being continuous as well: "All they are doing is getting groceries." Dec 29 '17 at 19:10

You can use an infinitive with or without to, not the -ing form, after the construction all + subject + verb + be. However, the infinitive without "to" is more common.

All they do is (to) get groceries.

  • What is the grammatical reason for why I can't use the continuous form in such constructions?
    – Chris
    Jan 8 '17 at 6:53
  • @chris, I wish I could explain it.
    – Khan
    Jan 8 '17 at 7:35

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