gerund

Gerunds and infinitives

Gerunds and infinitives

gerunds and infinitivesGerunds and infinitives and when to use each form can be confusing.

When there are two main verbs in a sentence, the second verb must be either a gerund (+ing) or an infinitive form of the verb. There are some rules to help you decide when to use gerunds and infinitives.

Gerunds and infinitives rule #1: Use the gerund as the subject

If a sentence uses a verb as the subject of a sentence, it is most common to use a gerund.

For example:

Swimming is good for your health. (not To swim is good for your health.)

Learning is important. (not To learn is important.)

Gerunds and infinitives rule #2: Decided by the main verb

If a sentence uses a verb as the object of a sentence, the decision of whether to use a gerund of an infinitive is made by the main verb in the sentence..

For example:

The thief admitted stealing the money. (the main verb ADMIT is followed by a gerund)

He can’t afford to buy a new car. (the main verb AFFORD is followed by the infinitive).

Unfortunately, there are no reliable rules for deciding whether a main verb should be followed by gerunds and infinitives. It is simply something that needs to be learned. You can use the table below to help.

Gerunds and infinitives rule #3: Either can be used as the object and have the same meaning

Sometimes the object of a sentence can be either a gerund or an infinitive with no difference in the meaning (see the table below for a more complete list of these words)

For example:

It started raining OR It started to rain

I began playing the guitar last year OR I began to play the guitar last year

Gerunds and infinitives rule #4: Either can be used as the object but they have a different meaning

Sometimes using gerunds and infinitives as the object of a sentence can make a difference to the meaning.

For example, look at the use of gerunds and infinitives below, we have these two possible meanings:

Gerund Stop reading that magazine and get back to work! This means that you should not read
Infinitive Stop to read the instructions before you break it! This means you should start reading

Gerunds and infinitives rule #5: use the gerund after prepositions

If there is a preposition after the main verb, then you always use a preposition.

For example:

I’m tired of waiting for you every day!

Many people surf the internet without having a website of their own.

Gerunds and infinitives – general rules

Look at the table below to learn more about general rules when using gerunds and infinitives.


Verbs followed by gerund Verbs followed by infinitive Verbs that can be followed by either gerund or infinitive with no real difference Verbs that can be followed by either gerund or infinitive but with a significant difference
acknowledge
admit
adore
anticipate
appreciate
avoid
celebrate
confess
contemplate
delay
deny
describe
detest
discuss
dislike
dread
endure
enjoy
fancy
finish
imagine
involve
keep
justify
mention
mind
miss
omit
postpone
practise
quit
recall
recommend
regret
report
resent
resume
risk
suggest
tolerate
understand
afford
agree
appear
arrange
ask
attempt
care
choose
claim
come
consent
dare
decide
demand
deserve
determine
elect
endeavour
expect
fail
get
guarantee
help
hesitate
hope
hurry
incline
intend
learn
long
manage
mean
need
offer
plan
prepare
pretend
promise
refuse
resolve
say
seem
tend
threaten
want
wish
begin
continue
hate
like
love
prefer
start
forget
remember
stop
regret

NOTE: The table above is not a complete list (a complete list would be pages and pages long!)

Click here to try the gerunds and infinitives exercises.

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