Gerund vs Infinitive

Gerund vs Infinitive

This is going to sound complicated and it is complicated, however, you will understand it if you work on it and give yourself a little time. Don’t expect a complete understanding overnight.

Infinitive

An infinitive is the basic form of the verb.

Forming the Infinitive

“to” + first person singular in the simple present tense.

For Example; I read books. (Simple present tense). The infinitive of the verb found in that sentence is “to read”. See definition here

Gerund

A noun formed from a verb by adding “ing” to the end of a bare infinitive (an infinitive without the “to” before it.)

For Example; “To read” is the infinitive, “read” is the bare infinitive and “reading” is the gerund. Consider the sentence “I like reading.” “I” is a pronoun, subject of the sentence. “Like” is a verb and “reading” is a gerund, object of the verb sentence. See definition here

Here is where it gets a little complicated.

  1. Some verbs can be followed by an infinitive but not by a gerund (agree-Let’s agree to disagree. disagree-Don’t disagree to work late this evening, aim-He has always aimed to be a millionaire, appear-He doesn’t appear to be injured, arrangeI have arranged to have a debate this evening, ask- Please don’t ask to drive my car, attemptThe mechanic attempted to repair the car, be ableIs he able to sell his home without an agent?, begI beg to differ with your last statement, careI don’t care to go to that restaurant, claimI don’t claim to know everything, decide-She decided to dye her hair blonde, demand-I demand to see the manager, deserve-Tom deserves to get a raise, failHe failed to pass his driving test, get-(has permission to)-I get to go backstage at this concert, happen-Did you happen to see the accident?, hesitate-Don’t hesitate to do what is right, hope-I hope to visit you this summer, intend-I didn’t intend to insult you, learn-Maria must learn  to control her temper, manage-I managed to get in for free, offer-I should offer to help him move, plan-I plan to open a store next year, pretend-He’s pretending to be rich, refuse-My neighbour refuses to fix his fence, seem-She doesn’t seem to be very intelligent, swear-Don’t swear to help if you don’t mean it, vowI vowed to tell the truth, wait-I’m waiting to take a bus, yearn-She is yearning to visit her grandchildren again)
  2. Some verbs can be followed by a noun/pronoun + infinitive (cause-Who caused the house to collapse?, convince-I convinced her to go out with me, enable-Your help would enable me to finish my work on time, force-Don’t force me to fire you, hire-They hired landscapers to mow their lawn, invite-Joan invited me to eat supper with her, order-I am ordering pizza to take home, remind-Please remind me to bring home some milk, tell-If he can’t be quiet, tell him to leave
  3. Some verbs can be followed by a gerund but not by an infinitive (admit-He admitted lying to me, anticipate-I anticipated losing my key, so I had an extra one made, appreciate-I hope you appreciate having such good weather, avoid-He carefully avoided falling down, can’t help-I can’t help falling asleep after I eat, can’t see-I can’t see voting for that party, complete-I will complete exercising by 2 pm, considerI am considering going to the party this eveningdelayDon’t delay starting on your diet, denyHe denied taking my car without permissiondiscussLet’s discuss working as partners, dislikeI dislike lining up to see a movie, don’t mind-Bob won’t mind working if he gets paid enough money, enjoy-I enjoy watching television in the evening,  imagineI can’t imagine winning the lottery, involveI will help you move as long as it doesn’t involve lifting heavy furniture, keepI’ll keep looking for my wallet, mindI don’t mind walking in the rain, missHe misses talking to his son, postponeI’ll postpone meeting your family until next week, practiceShe practiced skating 
    since she was young, recallI recall seeing your keys on the table, recommendI recommend eating three healthy meals a day, resentI resent being called stupid, suggestHis doctor suggests dieting understandI don’t understand being called stupid
  4. Some verbs can be followed by a preposition + gerund (admit to-Do you admit to breaking my window?, confess to-He confessed to stealing my money, object to-He objected to working long hours, used to-Betty is used to sleeping until 10, approve of-I definitely approve of studying for exams, disapprove ofI disapprove of playing instead of studying, argue about-Let’s not argue about spending money, complain aboutBob complains about having to mow the lawn, dream aboutI dream about winning the lottery
  5. Some verbs can be followed by a gerund or an infinitive and still have the same meaning (beginI began learning Mandarin-I began to learn Mandarin, can’t bear-I can’t bear seeing you sick-I can’t bear to see you sick, can’t stand-He can’t stand missing you-He can’t stand to miss youhateHe hates driving-He hates to drive, like-I like to cook-I like cooking, loveI love cooking-I love to cook, neglectBetty neglected watering her flowers, Betty neglected to water her flowers, prefer-I prefer walking to work-I prefer to walk to workstartWe should start running now-We should start to run now,
  6. Some verbs can be followed by a gerund or an infinitive and have very different meanings (forget-I forgot giving back your book-I forgot to give back your book, quit-I quit looking for another job-I quit to look for another job, remember-Tom remembered going to the store-Tom remembered to go to the store, stop-I stopped smoking-I stopped to smoke, tryI have tried drinking beer-I have tried to drink beer

Important note: If you have trouble understanding the difference in meaning, consider which of the two actions take place first and which take place second. For example, “I stopped smoking” has 2 actions. One action is “stopped” and the other is “smoking”. Smoking came first, then “stopping” occurred after. This sentence means that a person was smoking then he stopped.

Now look at “I stopped to smoke”, again there are two actions, one is “stopped” and the other is “smoking”. In this sentence, “I stopped to smoke”, the “stopped” occurred first and the “smoking” occurred after. This sentence means that a person “stopped” what he was doing and then began smoking.

 Important

  • “to” is not used before a gerund except in a few isolated cases (admit to, confess to, object to, used to (meaning “accustomed to”)

 

1.Verb follow by Infinitive not Gerund 2.Verb + Noun/Pronoun + Infinitive 3.Verb followed by Gerund not Infinitive 4.Verb + Preposition + Gerund 5.Gerund or Infinitive; Same meaning 6.Gerund or Infinitive; different meaning
Agree

Aim

Disagree

Appear

Arrange

Ask

Attempt

Be able

Beg

Care

Claim

Decide

Demand

Deserve

Fail

Get (permission)

Happen

Hesitate

Hope

Intend

Learn

Manage

Offer

Plan

Pretend

Refuse

Seem

Swear

Vow

Wait

Yearn

Cause

Convince

Enable

Force

Hire

Order

Remind

Tell

Admit

Anticipate

Appreciate

Avoid

Can’t help

Can’t see

Complete

Delay

Deny

Despise

Discuss

Dislike

Don’t mind

Enjoy

Imagine

Involve

Keep

Mention

Mind

Miss

Postpone

Practise

Recall

Recommend

Resent

Suggest

Understand

Admit to

Confess to

Object to

Used to

Approve of

Disapprove of

Argue about

Complain about

Dream about

Begin

Can’t bear

Can’t stand

Hate

Like

Love

Neglect

Prefer

Start

 

Forget

Remember

Quit

Stop

Try