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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

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Infinitive without “to”

What is an infinitive without “to”?

He need not wait. or He needs not wait.

Can you explain more about this?

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This is the use of "need" as an auxiliary, like "ought" or "must". Auxiliaries are followed by the plain form of the verb without "to".

John4 May-21-2009

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...except for "ought". Other auxiliaries are "can", "will", "should", "would", "might".

John4 May-22-2009

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we call them modal verbs.

mykhailo May-24-2009

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"He needs not wait" does not seem right to me. I would say, "He does not need to wait."

Nigel1 Jun-21-2009

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Is it ok to say HE NEED NOT WAI(T as the word, need, serves as an auxiliary??

gkwu8888 Jan-05-2011

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An infinitive without "to", also known as the bare infinitive, is used after modal auxiliary verbs (amongst others), for example:

"can do, will do, must do" etc

The verb "need" is a semi-modal, which means it can be used like a modal auxiliary verb or an ordinary verb:

"He need not wait." - modal with bare infinitive
"He doesn't need to wait." - normal verb with "to"-infinitive

The modal use "need" really only occurs in negatives an questions "Need I do it right now?", and normal verb use is probably becoming more common, and the modal use .

As far as I'm concerned "He needs not wait."is ungrammatical: it is neither modal nor normal verb use, but is trying to mix the two. At Oxford Online they say "he need not worry, not he needs not worry":

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/need (see Usage Note)

Warsaw Will Jun-15-2014

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