I know that generally native speakers say it usually like this (without the to):

These exercises will help you get better at math.
Can you help me move these boxes outside?

But sometimes, though very rarely, I see it used with the to. Like in this example:

This is just so that you won’t forget that you shouldn’t change these values after you first create them. It’s purely optional, but in the pages ahead you’ll see how useful all-capped constants can be to help you to better read and understand your programs.

I still don't really understand the deference between the two usages and don't know when we should use one over the other. Could you please help me get this straight once and for all?

  • 1
    You might find your answer on ELU: english.stackexchange.com/q/3578/24041
    – Cat
    Commented Jul 6, 2014 at 17:48
  • 1
    This is one you don't need to fret about. The "to" in those sentences is rarely needed and seldom changes the meaning.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 6, 2014 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


As J.R. comments, the presence or absence of to in OP's example has no real significance (the verb is still an "infinitive", regardless of whether it's explicitly "marked" with to or not).

But as this NGram shows, in recent decades the strong trend has been discard that "superfluous" to...

It may be worth noting this ELU answer and this UK corpus NGram suggesting Brits still cling to to, but I suspect the chart reflects too few instances to be truly significant, and that in practice UK usage either does already, or soon will follow the primarily US-led trend.

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