I don’t know if there’s a general rule for when to omit "to" before a verb that normally requires it. In my native language, the verbs in bold in the example below would all be in infinitive (to + root form of the verb, e.g. "to wash") so it often confuses me, but if this logic of mine is correct, it'll help a lot.

I think that in the following case "to" can be omitted, because there are implicit elements (between brackets) to consider:

If I could, I would do all that is still undone: [I would] wash the floor, [I would] do the laundry, [I would] clean the windows, and finally [I would] prepare the dish.

Is this logic correct? Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    The analysis is misleading, because you could also say this: There are so many things to do: wash the floor, do the laundry, clean the windows, and prepare the dish. But there is nothing being omitted (or implied) that would warrant the lack of to in a fashion similar to what you propose in your sentence. (For instance, to wash would make no sense in this context.) The reason you can omit it is different than you think. May 7, 2020 at 21:00
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    If English is not one of your native languages, then you're doing awfully well, far better than I have in any of my language pursuits. Excellent delivery/diction. On this matter though - "...I would do all that is missing to be done..." - this really doesn't work. Many other forms might work, but not that. For example: "...I would do all that is still undone..." or "...I would do all that needs doing..." or remain "...I would do all remains..."
    – user114352
    May 7, 2020 at 21:17
  • Thank you, @Yishmeray ! I accepted one of your suggestions and edited the text.
    – Louisr
    May 11, 2020 at 18:51
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    None of those verbs require to. To is not about requiring a verb....To goes to purpose or to link two parts of a sentence.In fact, your samples show that....
    – Lambie
    May 11, 2020 at 21:32

2 Answers 2


Here, you're dealing with bare infinitives. They are called "bare" because they don't have the word to in front of them, as you are used to (but they are still infinitives!).

This is where your "implicit elements" come into play: the verb would is an example of a modal verb, and these verbs (generally) take a bare infinitive. The word "to" couldn't be placed into the sentence as written, so it isn't "omitted." Instead, it's missing because of the concept of bare infinitives.

One more thing: as has been mentioned in the comments, the construction "all that is missing to be done" needs to be tweaked a little bit. You can tweak this in several ways, including:

I would do all that is yet to be done...

I would do all that is not done/undone...

I would do all that has not been done...

Also, make sure that you change prepared to prepare, which is the bare infinitive.


Trying to answer my own question, there is nothing implicit and “to” is not used in the example simply because the base/bare form of the infinitive is demanded, (as pointed out by @Kman3). This form would be used even without the “I would” in the first clause: “There are so many things to do: wash the floor, do the laundry, clean the windows, and prepare the dish”, quoting @Jason Bassford ‘s comment.

You must use the bare form of infinitive in the example (both “If I could, I would do all that is still undone: wash…” and “There are so many things to do: wash…”), simply because the verbs which come after the colon are connected to the verb “to do” (already in infinitive) in the first clause and “to” is dropped in such cases.

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