Omission of 'to' when using infinitives in phrases

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foraquid
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Omission of 'to' when using infinitives in phrases

Post by foraquid » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:29 am

I had a student ask me this:

My teacher told me I have to say, "Help your mother to clean the house", instead of, "help your mother cleaning the house".

I am a conversation teacher and I usually have no issues existing grammar, but this one got me.

I realised that in speech it sounds much more natural to omit the 'to': "help your mother clean the house" and the if we add 'with' to the second one then it sounds fine: "help your mother with cleaning the house".

My first thought was that, "help your mother" is obviously an imperative and that "to clean the house" is an infinitive phrase acting as an adverb. However, even if this is true I'm not sure why it sounds better/more natural without the 'to', and ultimately why we can't say "help your mother cleaning the house".

Any help would be appreciated.

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Firefox
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Re: Omission of 'to' when using infinitives in phrases

Post by Firefox » Sat May 04, 2019 1:10 am

Idiomatically in this order (IMHO):
Help your mother clean the house
Help your mother to clean the house
Help your mother with cleaning the house

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