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 English Grammar for ESL learners 


Gerund and infinitive forms of verbs in English: when to use them.

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 :
    like, love, enjoy, dislike, hate, don't mind, can't stand ...

    • She likes doing crossword puzzles.
    • He enjoys listening to music in the car.

    (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, imagine, involve, keep (on), mention, miss, postpone, suggest ...

    • Would you consider doing a few extra hours?
    • Can you image walking such a long distance?

  • 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?

    - instead of ...
    • Would you like to walk instead of taking the bus?

    - fond of ...
    • My mother is fond of doing crossword puzzles.

    - 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.

  • 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!

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

  • After verbs that refer to a future event :
    want, hope, intend, would like, 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.

  • After certain verbs such as :
    afford, agree, arrange, choose, need, fail, happen, help, learn, manage, offer, refuse, seem ...

    • I agree to pay for the damage.
    • Harry managed to get tickets for the match.
    • We arranged to go to the party together.

  • 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.

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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