I am a bit confused whether bare Infinitive is used after 'but' or not.

Which one is correct?

We want nothing but to be free.

We want nothing but be free.


1 Answer 1


The "but" is a red herring; it is distracting you from the actual grammar pattern

Consider these example

We want be free.
We want to be free.

I hope you agree that "want" requires a "to-infinitive"

If I insert an adverb phrase

We want nothing but to be free

I still need a "to-infinitive".

On the other hand:

I did cry.
I did to cry.

I hope you recognise that "did" uses the "bare infinitive". Adding an adverb "nothing but" doesn't change that

I did nothing but cry.

  • 1
    thank you very much for your valuable opinion. Would you please clarify : "He did nothing but cry" or "He did nothing but to cry" ? May 2, 2020 at 6:12
  • Would you say "I did cry" or "I did to cry"?
    – James K
    May 2, 2020 at 7:28
  • if "He did nothing but cry" means "He did nothing but he did cry", then 'but' seems to act as a conjunction here ; but I think in the phrase "nothing but" 'but' is a preposition! May 2, 2020 at 16:25

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