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.


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" ? – Sandip Kumar Mandal May 2 '20 at 6:12
  • Would you say "I did cry" or "I did to cry"? – James K May 2 '20 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! – Sandip Kumar Mandal May 2 '20 at 16:25

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