Other Grammar Rules

Gerund or infinitive

It can be tricky to remember which verbs are followed by the infinitive (the to form) of the verb and which are followed by the gerund (the ing form) of the verb. Sometimes the use of a gerund or an infinitive can change the meaning of a sentence.

Using Gerunds or infinitives

One of the difficulties of the English language is to know whether to use a gerund  (ex : doing) or an infinitive (ex : to do).

Generally speaking we can use the following rules:

ExamplesRulesExplanations
Verb + gerund1. I enjoy playing
2. I denied stealing
Often we use the gerund for an action that happens before or at the same time as the action of the main verb.1. I enjoy myself at the time of playing.
2. I deny having stolen anything before.
Verb + infinitive1. I decided to visit my uncle
2. I want to go out
Often we use the infinitive for actions that followthe action of the main verb.1. Visiting my uncle was an action of my decision. It comes after.
2. What I want (now) is to go out (after/later)

These rules are helpful but DO NOT always explain all uses of gerunds and infinitives.

Verbs commonly followed by a gerund

1- After verbs that express likes/dislikes :

  • like
  • love
  • enjoy
  • dislike
  • hate

Example:

" I like playing soccer but I hate boxing."

Note "like/love/hate..." can be also followed by an infinitive:

Example:

I like to watch TV in the evening.

2- After verbs  such as :

VerbsExamples
admitHe admitted stealing the wallet.
adviseI wouldn't advise buying a used car.
allowThey don't allow smoking here. (Note that when an object is introduced an infinitive is used instead of a gerund: they allowed us to leave early.)
anticipateHe anticipated passing the exam.
avoidShe avoided meeting him.
appreciateI appreciate working with you.
completeThey completed building their house.
considerShe considered starting a new business.
delayShe delayed doing her homework.
denyHe denied stealing the money.
fancyFancy meeting you here!
finishShe finished writing the letter.
gogo swimming.
imagineHe imagines meeting her.
involvethe job involves working in teams.
keepHe keeps complaining about his girlfriend.
mentionHe mentioned working in that company.
mindWould you mind helping me?
missHe misses talking to her.
permitThe don't permit smoking here. (Note that, like allow, when an object is introduced an infinitive is used instead of a gerund: they permitted us to leave early.)
postponeThey postponed traveling to Japan.
practiceShe practiced painting.
rejectHe rejected working with them.
resistHe couldn't resist eating the cake.
riskShe risks losing her job.
suggestI suggest leaving early.
waste time/moneyDon't waste my time complaining.

3- After prepositions

  • aim at
  • keep on
  • interested in
  • instead of
  • good at
  • before ...
  • after ...

Example:

"I am interested in collecting stamps."
"After playing football I drank an orange juice".

4- After some expressions :

  • It's no use ...
  • It's no good ...
  • There's no point in ...
  • I can't help...
  • I don't mind...
  • I can't stand/bear...

" It's no use convincing him to meet her. "

Verbs that can be followed by an infinitive

1- After verbs that  generally refer to a future event:

VerbsExamples
affordWe can't afford to buy a new car.
agreeShe agreed to help him.
aimThe government aims to reduce illiteracy rates
arrangeHe arranged to stay at a hotel.
attemptHe attempted to join them.
chooseHe chose to stay at home.
consentShe consented to marry him.
decideThey decided to go to the movies.
deserveHe deserves to be punished.
demandHe demanded to speak to Mrs. Lynch
endeavorThey endeavor to provide the best possible service
expectThey expected to arrive early.
failHe failed to convince him.
happenThey happened to be at the theatre when we met them.
helpShe helped me to do the exercise. (Note, help is also followed by a bare infinitive: She helped me do the exercise.)
hopeI hope to join you as soon as possible.
intendShe intends to write an autobiography.
learnHe learned to play the guitar when he was young.
manageHe managed to do his homework without his mother's help.
needI need to find a job.
offerHe offers to help us.
planHe plans to follow a career as an engineer.
pretendThe child pretended to be asleep.
proceedHe proceeded to show us how to use the machine.
promiseShe promised to come on time.
refuseShe refused to forgive him.
seemHe seemed to be unhappy.
swearI swear to tell the truth.
threatenHe threatened to reveal her secret.
volunteerHe always volunteers to help the needy.
wantI want to finish my work early.
would hateHe would hate to lose.
would likeHe would like to drink a cup of tea.
would loveI would love to meet you.

2- After adjectives

  • be determined
  • be disappointed
  • be glad
  • be happy
  • be pleased

Examples:

"I'm glad to know that you passed the exam."
"I'm pleased to meet you."
"I'm disappointed to hear that you flunked maths."

3- After "too" & "enough":

too difficult
easy enough

Example:

"It's too difficult to convince him to be helpful."
" But it's easy enough to fool him to get what you want."

Verbs that can be followed by both an infinitive and a gerund:

Some verbs can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive. Here are some examples:

  • start
  • begin
  • stop
  • remember...

Example:

"I started smoking when I was young."
"I started to smoke when I left the office."

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