I have a question about the word "cry" in the following sentence:
She did nothing but cry all day.
A student of mine asked me why "crying" cannot be substituted for "cry" in this sentence. Even though I know that "crying" is ungrammatical, I had a difficult time explaining why. After searching for an answer in various grammar books and on the Internet, all I could find were the following rules:
1. "The infinitive is used without the particle TO in conjunction with the following expressions: RATHER/SOONER THAN; DO + ANYTHING/NOTHING/EVERYTHING BUT; ALL + DO:
I'd throw it away rather than give it to him.
This machine can do everything but talk.
My parents do nothing but complain.
All I did was offer him some advice.
BUT: There was nothing to do but (to) wait."
2. "After certain idiomatic expressions
* had better -, had best –
- We had better not park our car here.
- You had best start at once.
* cannot but
- I couldn't but agree to his terms. *term: condition, requirement
* do nothing but
- The baby does nothing but cry all day.
* would rather – (than) ...
- I would rather stay where I am.
- I would rather die than disgrace myself. *disgrace"
It seems that learners just need to memorize these rules about bare infinitives, but is there any more logical explanation? I have a feeling it's something really simple that I just haven't thought of!