Gerunds and Infinitives

Gerunds and infinitives are forms of verbs that act like nouns. They can follow adjectives and other verbs. Gerunds can also follow prepositions.

A gerund (often known as an -ing word) is a noun formed from a verb by adding -ing. Not all words formed with -ing are gerunds.

An infinitive is to + the verb.

When a verb follows a verb it either takes the gerund or infinitive form.

Some verbs can take either the gerund or the infinitive with no loss of meaning.

For example:

* With the verb start – “It started to rain.” or “It started raining.” Both sentences have the same meaning.

Sometimes the use of the gerund or infinitive changes the meaning of the sentence.

For example:

* With the verb remember – “I remembered to do my homework”. or “I remembered doing my homework.”

In the first sentence (I remembered to do my homework), the person speaking remembered they had some homework first and then carried out the action and did it. In the second sentence (I remembered doing my homework.), the person speaking carried out the action (their homework) first and then remembered doing it.

Other verbs only take one or the other, unfortunately there is no rule as to which form the verb takes. The same is true when the verb follows an adjective.

The best way to learn their correct use is with practice. These lists may help:

Verbs that are normally followed by the gerund form:-

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

For example:

* I adore reading your books.
* They anticipated winning the election.
* I detest going to discos.
* We postponed making any decision in the meeting.
* I quit smoking.
* Do you recall seeing someone like that?

Verbs which are normally followed by the infinitive form:-

afford | agree | appear | arrange | ask | attempt | care | choose | claim | come | consent
dare | decide | demand | deserve | determine | elect | endeavour | expect | fail | get | guarentee
hate | help | hesitate | hope | hurry | incline | intend | learn | long | manage | mean | need
offer | plan | prepare | pretend | promise | refuse | resolve | say | seem | tend | threaten | want | wish

For example:

* I can’t afford to go to the pub.
* He agreed to practise more.
* You should learn to express yourself.
* They managed to fix the problem.

Verbs which can be followed by the gerund or infinitive form:-

Some verbs can be followed by the gerund or infintive.
With no change in meaning

begin | continue | hate | like | love | neglect | prefer | start | try

For example:-

* He began to learn English when he was eight.
* He began learning English when he was eight.
* I hate to leave.
* I hate leaving.

!Note – We often use the gerund when we speak about things in general, and the infinitive for particular situations.
With a change in meaning

forget | remember | stop

For example:-

* I forgot to feed the cat. (The cat is hungry – he has not been fed)
* I forgot feeding the cat. (The cat is ok – I fed him and then forgot about it)

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