"Never mind that, do you think he remembers what You-Know-Who looks like?"
Their mother suddenly became very stern. "I forbid you to ask him, Fred. No, don't you dare. As though he needs reminding of that on his first day at school."
"All right, keep your hair on." (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

Don’t you dare is an idiom showed in OALD and dare can be stranded, says CGEL (p.110). But when you say a directive not to do something like don’t you dare ask him about it, the complement of dare needs only to be an bare infinitive, not permitting don’t you dare to ask him about it? (OALD says lexical verb dare can have to-infinitive or bare infinitive.)

1 Answer 1


That is correct.

Dare can't make up its mind whether it's a full modal, taking a bare infinitive, or a lexical verb taking a marked infinitive catenate. My impression (it's no more than that) is that in speech the modal use with the bare infinitive is more common in negative expressions (Don't you dare eat that apple) and the lexical use with the marked infinitive is more common with positive expressions (If you dare to eat that apple ...)—except in the fixed expression I dare say (often written I daresay). But in speech positive uses are pretty rare anyway. In literary texts there is a distinct preference for the modal use.

In the 'challenge' sense (I dare you to eat that apple) the marked infinitive is obligatory because dare is unambiguously non-modal: the infinitive has a distinct subject.

  • the OP did not ask a question. What is the inferred question you are answering? Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 10:04
  • @BrianHitchcock OP asks whether she understands correctly that dare takes a marked infinitive with positive statements but acts as a modal, taking a bare infinitive, with negatives. Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 12:17

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