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 English Grammar for ESL learners 


GERUND vs INFINITIVE

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 ...
    • I really hate walking home in the rain.
    • My grandmother enjoys/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 ...
    • 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 and feels better now.
    • 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 as it is!
    • 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?
    - 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.
    - 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 can also serve as a noun:
    • My father dedicated his life to teaching.
    • Carla is addicted to shopping.
    • Swimming is my favourite sport.
    • Quarelling is a waste of time.
    • We witnessed the cruel killing of seals.

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.


Try an exercise

See also: When can we use both?

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