Gerund or Infinitive

Many non native speakers continue to get confused as to whether or not they should use the gerund or infinitive after certain verbs. Here is a list of the most common verbs we use with the infinitive when another verb follows.

Verbs which Take the Infinitive

  • Agree to go
  • Appear to go
  • Attempt to do (something)
  • Choose to go
  • Decide to go
  • Desire to go
  • Expect to go
  • Force (someone) to do (something)
  • Hope to go
  • Manage to go
  • Need to go
  • Plan to go
  • Refuse to go
  • Seem to go
  • Want to go
  • Would like to go
  • Wish to go

Demand to go

  • He demanded to speak to the manager.

Offer to go

  • He offered to take me to the airport.

Ask (someone) to do (something)

  • He asked me to help him.

Tell (someone) to do (something)

  • He told me not to answer the phone.

Persuade (someone) to do (something)

  • He persuaded me to marry him.
  • She persuaded him not to go to the football match and to stay at home with her.

Promise (someone) to do (something)

  • He promised to buy me a diamond ring.

Promise to do (something) for (someone)

  • He promised to help me clean the windows.

Teach (someone) to do (something)

  • He taught me (how) to speak English well.

Threaten to do (something)

  • He threatened to report me to the police if I didn’t give him back the money I had stolen from him.

Verbs which Take the Gerund

Verbs of feeling

  • Love going
  • Like going
  • Enjoy going
  • Mind going – in the pub
  • Do you mind watching my seat for me while I go to the bathroom = I hope this is not a problem for you.
  • I don’t mind cleaning = for me it is not a problem.  
  • Fancy going (Do you fancy going to a party at the weekend = are you in the mood to go or do you desire to go)
  • Feel like going (I don’t feel like going = I don’t have the desire to go, I’m not in the mood to go)
  • I don’t feel like going to work tomorrow. I’m really tired.
  • I can’t stand going to work. (I strongly dislike.)

Admit doing (something)

  • He admitted cheating in the exam.

Avoid doing (something)

  • He always tries to avoid doing his homework.

Consider doing (something)

  • He is considering moving to London.

Delay doing (something).

  • He delayed paying his phone bill.

Deny doing (something)

  • He denied stealing the money.

Detest doing = to strongly dislike.

  • She detests living in that horrible area.

Imagine doing (something).

  • Imagine winning the lottery. It would be great.

Insist on doing (something)

  • He insisted on giving me a lift to the station so I accepted. At least I didn’t have to go up to the bus stop and wait for the bus.

Keep doing = continue

  • Keep talking (don’t stop)

Mention doing

  • She mentioned meeting him for a coffee.

Practice doing

  • She practices speaking English whenever she gets the chance.

Recommend doing

  • I recommend going to mountains in the summer. It really is too hot to stay in Rome.

Resist doing

  • She resisted eating the whole bar of chocolate.

Suggest doing

  • They suggested staying at that five star hotel.

Verbs which take the gerund and the infinitive

Like, love, hate, prefer, start, miss.

  • I prefer going out at weekends to staying at home.
  • I prefer to go out at weekends. (same meaning)
  • I’ve started to go to the gym twice a week or I’ve started going. (Same meaning)
  • I really miss having a car. (I don’t have a car now and I feel the absence of it strongly).

With the verbs ‘remember, forget, try and stop, we can use both the infinitive and the gerund but the meaning changes. Here are some examples in context to enable you to see the meaning clearly. Out of context the meanings cannot be grasped.

I remembered to close the window = I didn’t forget Remember + gerund (To recall in your mind)

Person A: You left the window open when you went out.

Person B: No I didn’t. I remember closing it. (This I clearly recall)

Boy to mother: That film on TV is a repeat. I remember seeing it a few months ago.

Mother to son: Yes, I remember seeing it as well. They are always putting repeats on TV these days. Turn it over and see what’s on the other channel.

Husband to wife: Did you remember to iron my shirt? I need it to wear to work tomorrow.

Wife to husband: Oh sorry, I forgot to iron it. I’ll iron it after dinner.

I always remember to send birthday cards to my friends every year. (I never forget)

  • I forgot to close the window = (I didn’t remember … this didn’t happen)
  • I forget closing the window = (I don’t remember this fact even though it happened)

Person A: I’ve been trying to call you all day but the line has always been engaged. (Attempt to do something)

Person B: Try phoning me on the landline the next time. I sometimes switch my mobile phone off when I’m working. (Try + gerund = the solution to the problem)

Patient to doctor: I’ve been having terrible headaches recently. They come and go all the time.

Doctor to patient: Try taking a pain reliever the next time and lie down in a dark room. (The solution to the problem)

Patient to doctor: I can’t seem to get to sleep at night.

Doctor to patient: Have you tried counting sheep? (Solution to problem)

  • I stopped drinking = (I don’t drink anymore)
  • I stopped to drink = (I interrupted what I was doing to drink something)

Verbs which take the infinitive without ‘to’

Let (someone) go

  • Please let me go to the party mum, said the girl. = Please give me the permission.

Make (someone) go – Force someone to do something or go somewhere

  • My mother makes me study.

Verbs of the senses take the infinitive without ‘to’ + the gerund with a slight difference in meaning.

  • He heard me shout.
  • He heard me shouting.
  • I saw her stand by the fire.
  • I saw her standing by the fire.
  • I felt him touch my arm.
  • I felt him touching my arm.

With the gerund the action is prolonged.

  • I heard the dog bark. Woof!
  • I heard the dog barking. Woof, woof, woof, woof!!!
  • I heard the man scream for help. Help !!!
  • I heard the man screaming for help, Help, help, helpppp !!!
  • I saw him shoot. Bang.
  • I saw him shooting. Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

Thanks for reading about “gerund or infinitive”.

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