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GERUND vs INFINITIVE forms of English verbs

When to use the gerund and when to use the infinitive.

One of the difficulties of the English language is that some verbs are followed by the gerund (ex : doing) and others are followed by the infinitive (ex : to do)

Below you will find some guidelines and examples to help you.

When do we use the Gerund?
(verbs ending in -ing, ex: doing)

  • After verbs that express likes/dislikes/preferences :
    like, love, enjoy, dislike, hate, mind, can't stand ...
    • I really hate walking home in the rain.
    • My grandmother enjoys/likes doing crossword puzzles.
    • He enjoys listening to music in the car.
    • Does she mind living alone?
    • I don't mind cooking although I'm not a great cook!
    • Some prefer eating rather than cooking!
    • My father can't stand flying. It terrifies him!

    (It should be noted that 'would like' (to express a wish or a preference) is always followed by the infinitive. e.g. "I would like to watch the football match.")

  • After certain other verbs such as :
    admit, appreciate, avoid, consider, delay, deny, finish, give up, imagine, involve, keep (on), mention, miss, postpone, suggest ...
    • The boy admitted hitting the window with the ball.
    • We appreciate having a bus stop close to our house.
    • My mother avoids lifting heavy loads because of her back.
    • I can’t help laughing when the actor pulls a funny face!
    • Would you consider doing a few extra hours?
    • She delayed leaving until the ambulance arrived.
    • The suspect denied breaking into the house.
    • We discussed putting an advertisment in the newspaper.
    • The manager finished writing the report, then left.
    • My father gave up smoking last year.
    • Can you image walking such a long distance?
    • The job involves making presentations and speeches.
    • My parents miss living close to the shops.
    • Eva mentioned going to the same college as Alex.
    • Tom postponed calling home until the flight was booked.
    • The tourist office recommended taking the train.
    • The group resumed talking once the door closed.
    • The shop assistant remembered giving her a receipt.
    • Don’t risk aggravating the situation. Just leave it alone!
    • Jack suggested taking a taxi instead of walking home.

  • After prepositions :
    - worried/nervous/anxious about ...
    • I'm a bit worried about driving in the snow.
    • She's nervous about walking home alone in the dark.
    • He's anxious about moving to a new country.
    - interested in ...
    • Are you interested in working for us?
    - afraid of ...
    • I afraid of having an accident when I drive.
    - fond of ...
    • My mother is fond of doing crossword puzzles.
    - instead of ...
    • Would you like to walk instead of taking the bus?
    - good at ...
    • Julie is good at making cakes.
    - keen on ...
    • My dad is keen on watching sports on television.
    - before ...
    • Before leaving the office, please turn off the lights
    - after ...
    • After tidying the kitchen she went straight to bed.
    - to ...
    • I look forward to meeting your friends.
    • Pedro had to get used to driving on the left.

  • After certain expressions :
    - it's no use ...
    •  It's no use pleading - I won't change my mind.
    - it's no good ...
    • It's no good shouting at him - he's deaf!
    - there's no point in ...
    • There's no point in cooking food - nobody's hungry!

  • The gerund and gerund phrases can also serve as a noun:
    • My father dedicated his life to teaching.
    • He enjoys teaching mathematics.
    • Carla is addicted to shopping.
    • Eating junk food is not good for your health.
    • Shopping with friends can be fun!
    • Swimming is my favourite sport.
    • Quarelling is a waste of time.
    • We witnessed the cruel killing of seals.
    • One of our favourite activities is camping.
    • Running in the morning has become a routine for us.

When do we use the Infinitive?
(for example to do)

  • After verbs that refer to a future event :
    want, hope, intend, plan, would like, prepare, promise ...
    • I would like to do a course in medieval history.
    • He promised to return the book after reading it.
    • She hopes to find a job when she graduates.
    • He plans to move to Singapore.
    • They are prepared to pay extra for a better deal.

  • After certain verbs such as :
    afford, agree, arrange, choose, need, fail, happen, help, learn, manage, offer, refuse, seem, wait ...
    • I agree to pay for the damage.
    • Harry managed to get tickets for the match.
    • We arranged to go to the party together.
    • He needs to buy a new jacket for the interview.
    • Let's wait to help with the washing-up.

  • After adjectives:
    • glad/happy/relieved ...:  (glad to know that ...)
    • pleased/delighted...... :  (pleased to meet you...)
    • disappointed/sorry..... :  (disappointed to hear that ..)

  • After 'too' and 'enough'
    • It's too difficult to explain how it happened.
    • It's easy enough to install. You can do it yourself.

Try an exercise

See also: -When can we use both?
-Infinitive after certain verbs

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