30 votes
Accepted

Is "I will never know what makes the rain to fall?" correct?

The usual construction with "make" has the bare infinitive "makes the rain fall". The construction with a "to" infinitive is old fashioned and now seems a little poetic. ...
  • 158k
29 votes

"To death" vs "to the death"

"To the death" is used as an idiom with verbs and nouns meaning "fight" We shall fight to the death A battle to the death We will defend the castle to the death. It means "until one party is dead" ...
  • 158k
21 votes
Accepted

"On their way to killing". Does it sound right?

Not every "to" marks an infinitive: on their way to the store on their way to victory or defeat on their way to doing something This is the ordinary preposition "to". In general,...
20 votes
Accepted

I look forward to hearing from you or looking forward to hear from you?

This is a very common mistake! So, don't worry. Here is the cure. Ask yourself which one makes more sense: "look forward to it" or "look forward to do it"? Chances are you know ...
  • 26.9k
18 votes
Accepted

The fire demon won't bend down his head to be cooked on

To cook something on something: They cooked fish on a grill. To sit on something: He sat on a chair. To be sat on: The chair is designed to be sat on. To be cooked on: The grill is designed to be ...
18 votes

The fire demon won't bend down his head to be cooked on

First, I have read this book and 'bend down his head' is meant literally. Calcifer is a living fire who can be used as a stove, but only if he puts his head in the right position first. Second, the ...
  • 6,688
14 votes

Is "I will never know what makes the rain to fall?" correct?

As James K says, you would not normally use "makes ... to ...". However, without changing the meaning you could say "I'll never know what causes the rain to fall." Following "...
9 votes

Use of "have to" vs "am to"

"Be to", oddly enough, means that you have been directed or destined to do something by someone else. I can't. My mother says I am to clean my room. I am to go to London in a fortnight and ...
  • 9,373
8 votes
Accepted

Should I use "to work" or just "work"?

The difference is subtle, but important. Two quick translations... Do you start work at 7 or half past seven? Do you usually get to your place of work at 7 or 7.30? Do you start to work at 7 ...
8 votes

I look forward to hearing from you or looking forward to hear from you?

"Look forward to" is a phrasal verb, in which "to" is a preposition; it is a part of the phrase, not the part of the infinitive hear. So it takes a noun or the -ing form of a verb, even you use the ...
  • 26.8k
8 votes

"To death" vs "to the death"

A very good question! OALD says that both are idioms! to death (without the article) means extremely, very much. But when you add the article... to the death it means until you 'die' That's ...
  • 65k
8 votes

"On their way to killing". Does it sound right?

To is a sign of the infinitive, but it's also a preposition. Since nouns are the objects of prepositions, gerunds (which take the place of nouns) can appear after to as well. In the phrase the way ...
  • 35.9k
7 votes
Accepted

"help robot population (to) adapt" -- can I omit "to"?

When using the verb "help," you can use either a to-infinitive or a bare infinitive without affecting the meaning or the grammaticality of the sentence. The bare infinitive version is more common ...
  • 8,658
7 votes
Accepted

"all they did was (to) leave"

If an infinitive is preceded by an auxiliary verb and a phrase ending in do (such as What I did was, All we do is, etc.), the to is optional. From Practical English Usage, 91.5: Expressions like ...
  • 1,904
6 votes

The fire demon won't bend down his head to be cooked on

I'm not familiar with the book, but clearly the fire-demon is a source of heat; and is not consenting to be used in this way by just anyone; presumably the mechanism of deriving heat involves him ...
6 votes

Does "to" refer to a future event

What is involved here is the lexical aspect† of the verb meet. Meet in this sense has a specific sort of time structure 'built in' to its meaning. It's what we call an "achievement" verb: it ...
6 votes
Accepted

"Answer to the phone" and "Answer the phone"

The verb answer is normally used either without any Complements, or with a Direct Object: "Yes", she answered. (no Complement) Answer the question. (with Direct Object, the question) I answered him. (...
5 votes
Accepted

What happens if object of a verb refers to the passive subject?

You could say: In this regard, two hypotheses were picked for study. When you write: In this regard, two hypotheses were picked to study. I am expecting an object for "study", which might not ...
  • 30.9k
5 votes

all you need to do is figure out - if "figure out" is changed to "to figure out", how does the meaning change?

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.)
  • 2,148
5 votes

What is difference between 'walking' and 'to walk'?

Usually there is no significant difference in meaning between these non-finite verbs. That said, they can often be used to impart differing degrees of specificity. One potentially helpful way of ...
  • 1,010
5 votes

Sentence analysis trouble

....and we [can [use them [to help you [buy the best product]]]]. No, you've got the analysis mostly wrong. This is a complex catenative construction with a number of catenative verbs, two ...
  • 13.5k
5 votes

"On their way to killing". Does it sound right?

In this case, to is part of the phrase on the way to, which is suggesting that the people he is talking about are engaged in a course of action that if unchecked could or will lead to multiple deaths. ...
4 votes
Accepted

all you need to do is figure out - if "figure out" is changed to "to figure out", how does the meaning change?

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 ...
  • 2,430
4 votes

what is the difference between - I make it to go and I make it go?

In English, modal verbs such as CAN, WILL, the verbs MAKE, LET and also verbs of perception, for example SEE, FEEL or HEAR take verbs in the plain form. These verbs appear without the word to. For ...
4 votes

"I like to be loved" vs. "I like being loved"

I don't think there's much of a difference at all, since both forms are capable of expressing both an achieved state and an ongoing sense. One could say they differ only in which of those two senses ...
4 votes

Should I use "to work" or just "work"?

Somehow, using 'preposition' with the word 'work' here does not convince me. The sole reason for that is 'work' here serves as a noun. So, to + nounis NO. If I am asked to speak it naturally, I may ...
  • 65k
4 votes
Accepted

Why "to" is dropped after "is"?

I believe this is a case of the "zero infinitive". Essentially, either usage is correct, though there may be a preference for the zero infinitive case ("The first thing you need to do is trim ...
  • 327
4 votes
Accepted

Is the phrase "to not" correct in English?

In both of your sentences, the negative infinitive appears in the reverse of its normal form, which is not to [verb]. This is grammatically correct, but it is not the customary usage. In some cases, ...
4 votes
Accepted

grateful to someone for something?

Your usage of 'grateful' is grammatically correct - an acceptable usage is grateful (to somebody) (for something) For example - I am extremely grateful to all the teachers for their help. ...
  • 9,767
4 votes
Accepted

When do we use keep + to inf and keep + ing?

We use the verb keep with the present participle to emphasize that the ongoing action persists or persisted (or that it should persist, if the verb is in the imperative). I warned him to stop, but ...

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