How to Use Gerunds and Infinitives? 1

The gerund and infinitives are used many different cases, such as subject, object, complement, sometimes after the prepositions like “to” and sometimes after certain verbs. Here we have provided you the most complete information on infinitives and gerunds , the usage of them and also some exceptions in using them.

A. The gerund is used in the following cases:

1. As the subject / object / complement of a clause or sentence.


Example: Reading in a car makes me feel sick.


Example: I find shopping for clothes really boring.


Example: My favourite sports is swimming.

2. after prepositions:

Example:  I’m not very good at making things.

NOTE: “To” is a preposition in following verbs:

Example 1: I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Example 2: I can’t get used to living without her.

3. after certain verbs:

Example: Peter suggested going for a picnic.

B.The infinitive with to is used:

1. to express purpose:

Example: I’m learning English to help me get a better job.

2. after many adjectives such as:

  • surprised, delighted, disappointed, easy, happy, important, lucky, necessary, normal, possible, surprised.

Example: I was surprised to hear she had failed the exam.

3. after certain verbs:

Example: He offered to give her a lift, but she decided to go by train instead.

C. Gerund and infinitives after verbs:

1. Verb + gerund

Example: Have you finished cleaning your room?

NOTE: The following verbs, like finish, are normally followed by the gerund:

A. Certain verbs expressing likes and dislikes:

  • adore, detest, dislike, enjoy, don’t mind, can’t stand.

B. Other verbs:

  • admit, avoid, can’t help, consider, delay, deny, feel like, forgive, give up, imagine, involve, keep, mind, miss, postpone, put off, practice, prevent, resist, risk, suggest

2. Verb + infinitive with to

Example:He promised not to tell anyone what she had said.

A: The following verbs,like promise,are normally followed by the infinitive with to:

  • (can’t) afford, agree, appear, arrange, ask, attempt, choose, decide, deserve, expect, help, hesitate, hope, learn, manage, offer, prepare, pretend, refuse, seem.

B: The infinitive with to is also used after:

  • would like, would love, would hate, would prefer.

3. verb + gerund or infinitive

A. like, love, hate and prefer are usually followed by the gerund. However, the infinitive is also possible with little, if any, difference in meaning:

Example: I love going / to go for long walks in the hills.

NOTE: The infinitive is common for specific situations:

Example: I hate to interrupt, but we really must be going.

B. Begin, start, continue and intend can be followed by the gerund or infinitive with no change in meaning.

Example: When I arrived it started to rain / raining.

C. forget, remember, go on, need, mean, regret, stop and try can be followed by the gerund or the infinitive, but with a change in meaning.

NONE: remember / forget + gerund = (not) to recall a previous action.

Example: I remember coming here when I was young.

Example: I’ll never forget seeing U2 in concert.

NOTE: remember / forget = infinitive (not) to remember what you have to do.

Example: We must remember to feed the cat before we go.

Example: Don’t forget to phone me if you need any help.

NOTE: go on + gerund = to continue with the same activity.

Example: Some footballers go on playing professionally until they are nearly 40.

NOTE: go on + infinitive = to change to a different activity.

Example: After a successful career as a football player, John Cruyff went on to become a respected career.

NOTE: mean + gerund = to involve

Example: Dieting usually means giving up things you enjoy.

NOTE: mean + infinitive = to intend

Example: I mean to phone the electrician but I forgot.

NOTE: need + gerund = (passive meaning)

Example: This house needs painting. (needs to be painted)


NOTE: need + infinitive = (active meaning)

Example: I need to get some new shoes.

NOTE: regret + gerund = to be sorry for a previous action.

Example: I regret going to see that film: it was so boring.

NOTE: regret + infinitive = to be sorry for what you are going to say (formal use)

Example: we regret to inform you that we are unable to repair your washing machine.

NOTE: stop + gerund = to stop an activity you are doing.

Example: I’ve stopped smoking: it’s to expensive.

NOTE: stop + infinitive = to stop doing one thing in order to do another

Example: If you’re driving long distances, you should stop to have a rest every two hours.

NOTE: try + gerund = to experiment in order to see what will happen.

Example: Try resting for a while: you might feel better then.

NOTE: Try + infinitive = to make an effort; to attempt to do something.

Example: Alan tried to stop the thief as he ran away.

One comment on “How to Use Gerunds and Infinitives?

  1. Justine Mencias Jul 18,2012 8:03 am

    How about when the infinitives are missing to? Example: “Although Dr. Ribley spent an extra class period helping us understand logarithms, we still bombed the test.” 

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