The zero infinitive is used:

  1. after most auxiliaries (e.g. mustcanshouldmaymight)
  2. after verbs of perception, (e.g. seehearfeelwith the pattern verb + object + zero infinitive
  3. after the verbs ‘make’ and ‘let’, with the pattern make/let + object + zero infinitive
  4. after the expression ‘had better’
  5. after the expression ‘would rather’ when referring to the speaker’s own actions



After auxiliaries:

  • She can’t speak to you.
  • He should give her some money.
  • Shall talk to him?
  • Would you like a cup of coffee?
  • might stay another night in the hotel.
  • They must leave before 10.00 a.m.

After verbs of perception:

  • He saw her fall from the cliff.
  • We heard them close the door.
  • They saw us walk toward the lake.
  • She felt the spider crawl up her leg.

After the verbs ‘make’ and ‘let’:

  • Her parents let her stay out late.
  • Let’s go to the cinema tonight.
  • You made me love you.
  • Don’t make me study that boring grammar book!

NOTICE that the to-infinitive is used when make is in the passive voice:

  • am made to sweep the floor every day.
  • She was made to eat fish even though she hated it.

After ‘had better’:

  • We had better take some warm clothing.
  • She had better ask him not to come.
  • You‘d better not smile at a crocodile!
  • We had better reserve a room in the hotel.
  • You‘d better give me your address.
  • They had better work harder on their grammar!

After ‘would rather’:

Note: this is ONLY when referring to the speaker’s own actions – see ‘would rather’ in section on Unreal past.