I see that there are different views or different answers

Here are two examples from Cambridge: (to optional)

If Sally dares (to) go there again, she’ll be in big trouble! (ordinary verb)

He doesn’t dare (to) go there. (ordinary verb) (to is optional)

No one dares (to) go there. (ordinary verb)

But here from another page (to infinitive is only the possible answer)


2. I didn’t .....................… the truth. dare to tell = correct \ dare tell = not correct

Another book grammar (Fundamentals of English Grammar By Dr. Amit Prakash):

Infinitives after dare Negative and interrogative forms with do/did are in theory followed by the infinitive with to, but in practice the to is often omitted: He doesn't dare (to) say anything. Did he dare (to) criticize my arrangements?

Many exercises I answered online and from books like these I mentioned above all use the (to infinitive) when the verb dare = ordinary verb, so with which we go?

  • 5
    Some might say 'How dare you doubt the great Dr Amit Prakash', but in this case he is wrong. Sep 7 at 6:52
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    In my usage, I think "dare to..." is fairly normal and "dare..." is a little bit of a flourish. It's something I might use in writing but probably not in casual speech. "No one dares go there" sounds a bit like I'm telling a scary story. But it wouldn't strike me as odd if somebody used "dare..." more often than I do. I'm unsure if that's just me, or something others would agree with.
    – Kaia
    Sep 7 at 17:36
  • For an example of when I'd use "dare" without to: "I wouldn't dare" and "you wouldn't dare" are idiomatic, I don't think "you wouldn't dare to" is correct.
    – Kaia
    Sep 7 at 17:37
  • "But here from another page (to infinitive is only the possible answer)" ... I suppose you're looking at answer number 6 or one of the very similar ones. But in several of the other answers, they either allow or require bare infinitives (no "to"). I think this is one of those cases that come down to experience and opinion, and the Cambridge editor apparently has different experiences or opinions than whoever wrote that web page.
    – David K
    Sep 7 at 19:37

4 Answers 4


Bare infinitives are also applicable after make, help and let

I was let go.

He made me sit through the whole thing!

She helped me move to my new house.

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    those examples are almost exclusively found in accusative plus infinitive constructions. Dare can be used in this construction (albeit with a very different sense, "to challenge someone to perform some task", rather than "to have enough courage"), but is typically used with the infinitive describing an action with the same subject as that of "dare", and so requiring a different construction. As such these examples are not good analogues. "Let go" is, but this is arguably a phrasal verb at this point, as other verbs cannot generally be substituted for "go" the way they can with "dare"
    – Tristan
    Sep 7 at 10:40
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    yes, dare uses a different construction with the bare infinitive. These verbs typically occur in an accusative plus infinitive construction. This name comes from Latin but it's stuff like "makes me run" where the object of the first verb is the subject of the second. In this construction, the subject of the second verb appears in object form (if it's a pronoun), and the second verb as a bare infinitive. As this construction has the requires the subject of the second verb to be the object of the first, it does not apply to dare (in this sense at least)
    – Tristan
    Sep 7 at 10:57
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    when dare is used with a bare infinitive it follows the same construction as modal verbs like "can", where the subject of the second verb is the same as the first
    – Tristan
    Sep 7 at 10:57
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    "let go" is an exception to this. It does follow the modal construction, but it is not productive, and you can't generally substitute other verbs there instead of "go" (e.g. "I was let eat" is not idiomatic)
    – Tristan
    Sep 7 at 10:58
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    dare can use the accusative plus infinitive construction, but with a different meaning. Daring to do something is different from daring someone to do something
    – Tristan
    Sep 7 at 10:59

These are called semi-modal verbs. They can be used both as main verbs and as modal verbs (with some exceptions; e.g., the expression How dare you). Another similar verb is need:

  • “No one need know about this.”
  • “You needn’t dress smartly.”
  • “You need only ask.”

Yes, in practice, fluent speakers often omit the "to" after "dare".

Note this construction is used with many other verbs. "I didn't think to ask." "I tried to help." "I hope to find out." I can't think of any example besides "dare" where the "to" is routinely omitted, but I wouldn't swear there aren't any others.

A textbook might say that the "to" is required", but in practice even the most educated English speakers often omit it. I can't think of any general grammar rule that applies, I think it's just convention.


The englishgrammar.org page is incorrect. “I didn’t dare tell the truth” is perfectly grammatical and idiomatic. It may be somewhat less casual, making the reason for not telling the truth seem somewhat more dire, but this is a weak connotation.

Honestly, to my (native AmE speaker) ear, “I didn’t dare tell the truth” sounds much better than “I didn’t dare to tell the truth.”

  • This is in speaking Yes, most of people omit ( to ) Sep 14 at 14:40

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