All that can do is [to] make us disappointed.

Is the "to" required for the above sentence?

  • It looks like the version without to has been gaining in popularity, and the version with to has been losing popularity, for about 100 years: books.google.com/ngrams/… – stangdon Jul 7 '18 at 12:53
  • All that can do is [to] make us disappointed That does not make sense. What or who is the subject? All that ??? can do… – Mari-Lou A Jul 8 '18 at 6:12
  • @Mari-LouA The subject is "that". – Sasan Jul 11 '18 at 7:37
  • I believe you are mistaken, in your example "that" is used to form a relative clause see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That The phrase "All that ???" is the subject. You need to say who or what in place of the question marks. Why this question has 2 upvotes is a bit of mystery to me. – Mari-Lou A Jul 11 '18 at 7:57
  • @Mari-LouA Isn't "all that can do" equivalent to "all it can do"? The upvotes are because the question is interesting and challenging. It is answered elsewhere, but not everybody coming across the question knows of the similar questions, so they upvote. – Sasan Jul 11 '18 at 11:04

At first, I think that only ‘to make’ is grammatically correct. But now I learned from this posting that both ‘to make’ and ‘make’ are OK. Thank you all for this informative posting.

  • Do you have a source for this? I ask because there are many, many results with "...can do is make...", including ones from the Congressional Record. – stangdon Jul 7 '18 at 12:52
  • I mean that ‘to make’ is grammatically correct. I learned like that in grammar books. But in everyday usages, I’m not sure whether ‘make’ is acceptable or not. Native speakers can tell this better. – Stella Jul 7 '18 at 13:02
  • @Stella If you want to avoid more possible downvotes (the one here is not from me), I would edit your answer to say that is to make is grammatical—but so is just is make. The to is not required but it's also not wrong. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 7 '18 at 16:38
  • Thank you for your advice. Hmm...really interesting. It’s because if I take an English grammar exam in my country, I have to choose ‘to make’ as an answer. And I understand downvotes are really good tools to prevent poor answers. Even if I get downvotes for this, I don’t feel uncomfortable. With this posting Now I learned that my grammar knowledge is very limited. Thank you! – Stella Jul 8 '18 at 5:43

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