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.
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
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.
- 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, arrange–I have arranged to have a debate this evening, ask- Please don’t ask to drive my car, attempt–The mechanic attempted to repair the car, be able–Is he able to sell his home without an agent?, beg–I beg to differ with your last statement, care–I don’t care to go to that restaurant, claim–I 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, fail–He 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, vow–I vowed to tell the truth, wait-I’m waiting to take a bus, yearn-She is yearning to visit her grandchildren again)
- 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
- 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, consider–I am considering going to the party this evening, delay–Don’t delay starting on your diet, deny–He denied taking my car without permission, discuss–Let’s discuss working as partners, dislike–I 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, imagine–I can’t imagine winning the lottery, involve–I will help you move as long as it doesn’t involve lifting heavy furniture, keep–I’ll keep looking for my wallet, mind–I don’t mind walking in the rain, miss–He misses talking to his son, postpone–I’ll postpone meeting your family until next week, practice–She practiced skating
since she was young, recall–I recall seeing your keys on the table, recommend–I recommend eating three healthy meals a day, resent–I resent being called stupid, suggest–His doctor suggests dieting, understand–I don’t understand being called stupid
- 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 of–I disapprove of playing instead of studying, argue about-Let’s not argue about spending money, complain about –Bob complains about having to mow the lawn, dream about–I dream about winning the lottery
- Some verbs can be followed by a gerund or an infinitive and still have the same meaning (begin–I 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 you, hate–He hates driving-He hates to drive, like-I like to cook-I like cooking, love–I love cooking-I love to cook, neglect–Betty neglected watering her flowers, Betty neglected to water her flowers, prefer-I prefer walking to work-I prefer to walk to work, start–We should start running now-We should start to run now,
- 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, try–I 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.
- “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|