How to use gerunds and infinitives

Basic notes about gerunds and infinitives

Using gerunds and infinitives can sometimes be challenging, especially when using one instead of the other. Gerunds are defined as verbs put in the present participle form. That is, verbs that take the ing-forms, such as writing, doing, speaking, having, etc.

Infinitives, on the other hand, are referred to as verbs that have “to” at the beginning like to play, to cook, to get, to read, etc. This means that these verbs are not conjugated in any tense.

When do we put verbs in the gerund form (ing-form)?

A verb takes the gerund form in the following cases:

1. If it comes after a preposition

Take a look at the examples below:

  • I dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
  • She always goes to bed after brushing her teeth.
  • They are interested in going to the mountains.

2. If they are used as subjects at the beginning of the sentence

Look at the examples below:

  • Cycling is my favorite sport.
  • Cooking is Sarah’s hobby.
  • Getting a good job can sometimes be very difficult.

3. If they function as objects following a verb


  • I want to quit smoking as soon as possible.
  • Anna loves riding horses.
  • We should avoid eating junk food whenever we can.

4. Some verbs are directly followed by a gerund (ing-form)


  • Susan can’t help crying when she remembers her dead father.
  • They celebrated being spouses for more than 20 years.
  • The Browns are considering moving to a new apartment.

Here is a list of common verbs and expressions followed by gerunds

AbhorShe abhors being looked down upon.
AcknowledgeThe employee acknowledged asking his coworkers to go on strike.
AdmitThe criminal admitted killing the man and his wife.
AppreciateI appreciate attending his lectures.
AvoidThe parents avoid leaving their children alone at home.
Be worthThe book is worth reading.
Can’t helpI can’t help going to bed early after a long day of hard work.
Can’t standMr. Dividson can’t stand intervening when sees unjust things.
Can’t supportBarbara can’t support spending all her money on technology gadgets
CelebrateThe Dickens family will celebrate living in their villa for the third decade.
ConsiderElizabeth is considering leaving her job to immigrate to Australia.
Crazy aboutKids are crazy about playing video games.
DefendJames defends spending most of his time watching Westerns.
DelayThe school officials have delayed organizing the first semester exams next month.
DetestI detest studying physics and maths in French.
ContinueThe UN continues providing financial aid to refugees all over the world.
DiscussWe will meet this afternoon to discuss modifying some of the school regulations.
DislikeI dislike working in the morning.
EndureThe blacks endured fighting racism for many decades.
EnjoyBoth girls and boys enjoyed dancing at the party.
EscapeThe soldier escaped being captured by the enemies.
ExplainThe company manager explained to me doing business online.
FearNadir fears nearing wild animals.
FinishI haven’t finished setting up my project yet.
Fond ofI am fond of cycling.
Keen onBarbara is keen on going to concerts.
KeepKeep working like that,” the father told his son.
Mad aboutMy little daughter is mad about watching cartoons.
MentionIn his last lecture, the professor mentioned starting to prepare for another doctoral degree.
MissYesterday, I missed catching the 8:00 train.
NecessitateThis problem necessitates taking extra measures.
PermitThe authorities will permit chasing animals in this zone.
PostponeThe spouses have postponed organizing their wedding party for another month.
PracticeDo you still practice playing the guitar?
RecallI recall seeing this guy somewhere.
RecommendI recommend ensuring your car against all risks.
ReportThe army reports preventing the enemy from bombarding the city.
ResistColored people resisted facing racial laws in western countries.
ResumeLearners will resume taking their English lessons.
RiskBy doing this, you risk losing your job.
ShunThe majority of young people shun getting involved in politics.
SuggestThe doctor suggests taking these pills twice a day.
SupportMy parents support establishing a business instead of looking for a 9-5 job.
UnderstandI can’t understand complaining about everything.

When do we use infinitives with “to” (to+verb)?

We use infinitives with “to” in the following cases:

1. After certain verbs

Take a look at these examples:

  • Anna and George decided to get married.
  • Alexandra wants to go to university after getting her baccalaureate.
  • Morocco and England have agreed to establish bilateral relations.

2. After most adjectives


  • This exercise is difficult to do
  • I find hiking tough to practice.
  • Social issues are not always easy to deal with.

3. To indicate purpose

Look at the following examples:

  • I’d like to leave my job to start a business.
  • Mary goes to the supermarket to do the shopping.
  • Andrew met his uncle, Pablo, to discuss some family problems.

Here is a list of common verbs and expressions that are followed by the infinitive with “to”

AgreeJoseph and Richard agreed to settle their problem peacefully.
AppearJennifer appears to have some psychological problems.
ArrangeJessica and Thomas arranged to take the driving test together next month.
AskThe teacher asked us to write a paragraph about ourselves at home.
AttemptCharles attempted to cross the flooded river but he couldn’t.
BegThe son begged his father to forgive him.
ChooseDaniel chose to rent a private room.
ClaimChristopher claims to know the killer.
ComeMatthew will come to see me tomorrow afternoon.
DecideMargaret decided to work as a social assistant.
DemandLisa demanded to get vaccinated against Covid19.
DeserveI believe that Sandra deserves to be awarded the prize.
DetermineI am determined to take on the challenge.
EndeavorThe workers endeavored to satisfy their boss.
ExpectSteven and his wife, Karen, are expected to arrive at 6:00 p.m.
FailSusan failed to pass the test for a second time.
GuaranteeThe company guaranteed to replace the item in case of malfunction.
HesitateAshely hesitated to accept Paul’s marriage offer, but, in the end, she gave her consent.
HopeI hope to get a visa for Canada.
HurryThey hurried to save the baby.
Incline He is inclined to make videos about all the scenes that are exciting.
LearnTim and his wife, Laura, learned to avoid risks before they happen.
ManageKevin managed to finish his project before the end of the year.
MeanAmanda didn’t mean to hurt you.
NeedI need to think deeply about this decision.
OfferThe passers-by offered to help me start my car but I refused.
PlanCarol is planning to spend her summer holidays in Turkey.
PrepareMelissa and Timothy are preparing to move to a new apartment.
PretendShe pretends to be sick.
PromiseI promised to do everything she told me.
RefuseMost workers refused to work at night.
RequestThe student requested to talk to the headmaster.
SeemEnglish seems to be difficult to learn, but, in reality, it is not.
StriveRonald strives to meet all his wife’s needs.
StruggleIn some countries, women are still struggling to get their freedom and equality with men.
SwearI swear to abide by the law of the country I live in.
TendWomen tend to give more importance to their appearances.
ThreatenThe kidnappers threatened to kill the boy if they don’t receive the money demanded.
VolunteerMost people volunteered to help those inflicted by the disaster.
WaitThey waited to get their share of the heritage.
WantI want to go home as soon as possible.
WishI wish to see you in better condition.
Would likeI would like to have a cup of coffee, please.

When do we use infinitives without “to” (bare infinitives)?

1. After modals/auxiliary verbs

Take a look at the examples below:

  • Drivers must respect the driving code.
  • Although she is still 15, Sarah can cook very well.
  • Students should revise their lessons regularly.

2. After certain verbs (let and make)


  • Mrs. Brown never lets her daughter, Alexandra, go out alone.
  • You always make me wait for hours.

3. After verbs of perception (feel, watch, see, hear, notice)


  • Every evening, I hear Mary quarrel with her husband.
  • The neighbors saw the thief steal the car.
  • The waiter noticed the woman leave the restaurant without paying.

4. After the expression “why (not)”


  • Why not use alternative medicines?
  • Why ask for help if you can fix the problem yourself?

Here is a list of common verbs and expressions followed by infinitives without “to”

CanI can lift 100 kilos.
CouldWhen Brian was young, he could run very fast.
MayEdward may get a good job because he is highly skilled.
MightRebecca might fly to London this month.
WillIt will be sunny and hot tomorrow.
WouldThey said it would rain torrentially.
Needn’tYou needn’t wear thick clothes. The weather is quite warm.
MustDorothy must see a doctor as soon as possible. Her condition is critical.
Mustn’tPeople mustn’t smoke in public places.
Have toI have to leave now.
ShallEmily shall spend the rest of her life alone.
ShouldYou should apologize to your father.
Ought toYou ought to ask your teacher for permission before leaving the classroom.
Had betterYou had better take these pills after meals.
DoI do apologize for the hurt I caused you.
Would ratherWe would rather quit before the police arrive.
Would soonerThe soldiers would sooner die than surrender.
Why (not)Why not go on a diet?
HearI always hear her sing French songs.
SeeThe neighbors saw the thief break into the house through the window.
NoticeWe noticed him tremble because of the cold.
FeelThe mother feels her daughter suffer.
WatchThe teacher watched the student cheat in the exam.
MakeYour behavior makes me feel you are guilty.
LetPlease, let me see your drawing.

Exercise about gerunds and infinitives

Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the verbs.

  1. You ought to ……………….. the grammar mistakes in your essay. (correct – to correct – correcting)
  2. I don’t want ………………….. there alone. (go – to go – going)
  3. You needn’t ………………… anything else. (do – to do – doing)
  4. I can’t bear ……………… to that guy. He is too boring. (talk – to talk – talking)
  5. Can you show me how to ……………….. the machine, please? (operate – to operate – operating)
  6. Jane heard Nancy ………………… to him. (whisper – to whisper – whispering)
  7. Students can’t do this task without ……………….. with each other. (collaborate – to collaborate – collaborating)
  8. The police forced the suspect ………………… the truth. (say – to say – saying)
  9. They made him ……………. the document unknowingly. (sign – to sign – signing)
  10. The officials didn’t ………………. dogs enter the zoo. (let – to let – letting)
  11. You will not ……………… the apples if you don’t stand on your tip-toes. (reach – to reach – reaching)
  12. I advised my son ……………….. smoking as soon as possible. (give up – to give up – giving up)
  13. Dorothy loves …………………. plants. (water – to water – watering)
  14. I can’t stand ………………….. women scream. (hear – to hear – hearing)
  15. The family could hear the noise of the cat ……………… away. (run – to run – running)
  16. If you don’t ……………….. hard, you won’t be able to finish on time. (work – to work – working)
  17. I can ……………….. the time when we first met at school. (remember – to remember – remembering)
  18. ……………. everybody is sometimes risky. (trust – to trust – trusting)
  19. The company manager is strongly interested in …………….. a look at your CV. (take – to take – taking)
  20. Edward dislikes ……………….. lottery tickets. (buy – to buy – buying)

Similar Posts