I have never heard him to say it

Now, I realize that the "to" is not supposed to be there. But why? Grammatically "say" in this sentence is an infinitive. Or it is pretending to be one. I am using other languages to get to the bottom of this and "say" ends up being an infinitive in each of them.

  • 2
    Since when does a plain form have to be preceded by the infinitive marker, to? Hear takes a bare infinitival in your example (though it may take a to-infinitival in the passive: He has never been heard to say it (by me)). That's just how it is in English – different verbs behave differently. – user3395 Apr 12 '19 at 18:25

It's a bare infinitive

Bare infinitives are commonly used for/with "perception" verbs (like hear, feel, feel) and auxiliary verbs (may, must, should).

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