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Like most programming problems, if you understand the logic behind what you’re trying to accomplish, all you need to do is figure out a way of representing that logic with programming code. So let’s think for a moment about the problem we have to solve.

How would the meaning of the sentence change if figure out was changed to to figure out?

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+300

There is no difference in meaning between to-infinitives and bare infinitives. The use of one form or the other is generally determined by the verb controlling the infinitive clause.

Typical examples of a verb requiring the use of a to-infinitive are:

I want to go home.
I need to go home.

Other verbs admit both to-infinitives or bare infinitives, e.g.:

I will help you go home.
I will help you to go home.

Auxiliary and most modal verbs don't admit a to-infinitive, e.g.:

I did go home.
I will go home.
I should go home.
I needn't say anything.
I need go home. (rare)

A few modal verbs demand a to-infinitive, e.g.:

I was unable to go home.
I ought to go home.

The lexical verb need to and the modal verb need/needn't are an interesting case. Note that whereas need/needn't doesn't admit a to-infinitive, need to demands it. As a consequence, it is possible to find both:

I need to go home. (common)
I need go home. (rare)

A search in Google's n-gram viewer reveals that the use of need + bare-infinitive is rare.


The example in this question:

[...] all you need to do is figure out a way [...]

is compounded by the use of two verbs, need that usually takes a to-infinitive and do that takes a bare infinitive.

Based on the above arguments, one would expect the following uses:

all you need is to figure out a way
all you need to do is figure out a way

However, another search in Google's n-gram viewer reveals that the following alternative, although rare, is also possible:

all you need to do is to figure out a way

5

Both forms are correct, and they mean the same thing. The form without the "to" is more common. (I did a search in the COCA corpus. The form without the "to" is six times more common.)

1

Actually, using to in front of figure out would be correct and acceptable, but unnecessary, since figure out here is governed by the first to. In a sentence without the first to, you would have to supply it:

All you need is to figure out...

Since it would be incorrect to say: All you need is figure out, we know that to is not optional in your sentence - it is required, and present, supplied by the first to. However it can be restated with no change in meaning.

0

As Dangph says, both forms mean the say thing. I would say these represent stylistic options. Using "to figure out" gives the sentence a more formal and precise tone to it. However, the beginning of the next sentence "So let's think..." makes reveals that the tone of the paragraph is meant to sound informal.

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