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HELP is a verb that can be used with or without 'to'



HELP is a verb that can be used with or without 'to'. There is no difference in meaning.

"I helped him (to) carry the heavy suitcase up the stairs."
"It's a little motivation that helps you (to) work that much harder."

In general, the form without 'to' is more common. It is also more informal. 

"He helped his grandfather cook breakfast."

Using 'help to + infinitive' is more prevalent in BrE and less common in the US. 

"As a British translator (from German) I've sometimes had 'help to + infinitive' corrected to 'help + infinitive' by US editors."

Some UK users state they would tend to omit 'to' when speaking of practical assistance, giving a hand.

"Could you help me move this piano?"
"Could you help me look for my car keys? I can't find them anywhere."

However, in most other context they would tend to include it.

"My knowledge of German and English helped me to learn Flemish".

It may be worth noting that although Brits still seem to be clinging to 'to', the British National Corpus suggests that in practice UK usage either does already, or soon will follow the primarily US-led trend.

"There is no difference, just personal taste."
"I would say that it probably depends on the verb whether we omit the to."

The usage without 'to' seems to be clearer and far more idiomatic to many users. 

"Vitamin E may help protect you from heart disease"

The omission of 'to' before an infinitive following the object of 'help' is especially desirable in cases where the infinitive with 'to' can be mistaken for a purpose clause. 

 "I helped him get promoted."
 "I helped him to get promoted."

The second sentence sounds ambiguous. It could either mean 'I helped him get promoted' or 'I helped him in order to get promoted.'

"He helped me to grow as a person."

All in all, both forms are perfectly correct, neither constituting purer English than the other, and the 'to' is simply optional. The tendency to omit 'to' must be just part of American drive to trim and snip words out to achieve greater efficiency and higher words-per-gallon in our verbal machinery. Go figure.

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