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GERUNDS AND INFINITIVES
An infinitive is the verb form that has “to” at the beginning. For example, “to do,” “to sleep,” “to love” and “to create.” It is the simplest verb form that you have to modify to fit into sentences.
For example, “She sleeps” no longer contains the infinitive of the verb “to sleep.” Instead, it has been conjugated into the simple present third person form of the verb “to sleep”: sleeps.
Gerunds are formed by adding “-ing” to the verb: “sleeping,” “drawing,” “swimming.” But they are not the “-ing” verb forms that you see in the present or past continuous tense. They look the same, but gerunds are actually verb forms used as nouns.
Let’s take the infinitive of the verb “to sleep” and use it in two different sentences:
I am sleeping.
This is the present continuous. “Sleeping” here is part of the verb. It is not a gerund. Here’s the second sentence:
I don’t like sleeping.
This is present simple, but it contains a gerund. “Sleeping” is the direct object of this sentence.
5 Simple Rules to Master the Use of Gerunds and Infinitives
Rule 1: Gerunds can be used as a subject of a sentence.
Walking is good for your health.
Making friends has become more difficult since I moved to a new city.
Becoming a millionaire is a dream of many young people today.
Rule 2: Both gerunds and infinitives can be used as objects of a sentence.
You may say:
“I enjoy drawing.”
You may also say:
“Yesterday, I decided to draw.”
Both sentences are correct, but one has an infinitive as the object and the other has a gerund as the object.
What is the difference?
It’s the verbs that precede (come before) the object. Some verbs require a gerund and some will require an infinitive. In the above examples, we can see that the formula is “enjoy” + [gerund] and “decide” + [infinitive].
Rule 3: Infinitives should be used after many adjectives.
It is not easy to graduate from university.
It is necessary to speak English to work in a hotel.
It is wonderful to have close friends.
When you describe something with an adjective (underlined in the examples above), an infinitive should follow (in bold). Using gerunds here would be incorrect.
But remember! If you want to make that object into a subject (see Rule 1), a gerund should be used:
Graduating from university is not easy.
Speaking English is necessary to work in a hotel.
Having close friends is wonderful.
How else do you know if an adjective should be followed by an infinitive? The construct “too + [adjective]” is another way to tell.
This dress is too big to wear.
This car is too expensive to buy.
And the same is true about “[adjective] + enough”:
My child is not tall enough to ride this rollercoaster.
The course was detailed enough to widen his knowledge base.
This rule is useful enough to understand the usage of infinitives!
Rule 4: Only infinitives are used after sentence objects that are nouns or pronouns referring to a person.
“We asked her not to go.”
In this sentence, “we” is the subject, “asked” is the verb and “her” is the objective form of the pronoun “she.” You must use an infinitive (“to go”), never a gerund, after direct and indirect objects referring to people.
To remember this rule, you will have to study verbs that take an object and an infinitive.
Start with these examples. The objects (nouns and pronouns) are underlined. Notice how the underlined objects are all followed by infinitives.
• ask: Can I ask you to help me with something?
• expect: I never expected him to become famous.
• hire (give a job to someone): Did the company hire youjust to sit in your office?
• invite: I invited a friend to attend the ceremony.
• order: She ordered the child to stay at home.
• remind: Please remind me to wash the dishes.
• require: The test required him to concentrate fully.
• teach: That will teach you to follow the rules!
• tell: Who told you to come here?
• urge: They urged me to continue my research.
• warn: I am warning you not to do this!
Rule 5: Only gerunds are used after prepositions (with one exception).
Consider this sentence:
I talked him out of taking that job.
Here, the gerund “taking” follows the preposition “of.”
Prepositions can follow any word, be it a noun, a pronoun, a verb or an adjective. In the examples below, the prepositions are underlined, followed by the gerunds in bold.
A preposition that follows a noun:
Novels about growing up are popular among teenagers.
I have an interest in becoming a painter.
A preposition that follows a pronoun:
I forgive you for not telling the truth.
A preposition that follows a verb:
She is thinking about trying martial arts.
He looks forward to meeting his cousins.
A preposition that follows an adjective:
I am wary of going alone.
My mom is scared offlying.
There is one exception!
“But” is a short word that connects two clauses of a sentence together. It is called a conjunction. Sometimes, “but” can also play a role of a preposition. When “but” is used as a preposition, it is the same in meaning as “except.”
If “but” or “except” are used like this, they need to be followed by an infinitive:
I had no choice but to follow her.
(I had to follow her.)
Mary made no stops on the way except to get gas.
(Mary only stopped to get gas.)
There is nothing left for me to do but to collect my money and go.
(I only have to collect my money and go.)
Retrieved from https://www.fluentu.com/blog/english/gerunds-and-infinitives/
Common verbs followed by a gerund
Example: He missesplaying with his friends.
• be worth
• can’t help
• give up (stop)
• keep (continue)
• keep on
• mind (object to)
• feel like
• put off
Common verbs followed by an infinitive
Example: She threatenedto quit if she didn't get a raise.
• can/can’t afford
• can/can’t wait
• grow (up)
• turn out
• would like
Verbs followed by a gerund or infinitive with little to no change in meaning
Example: It startedto rain. / It startedraining.
• Begin; can’t bear; can’t stand; continue; hate; like; love; prefer; propose; start
Verbs followed by a gerund or infinitive with a change in meaning:
forget I forgot to meet him. (I didn’t meet him because I forgot to do it.) I forgot meeting him. (I don’t have the memory of meeting him before.)
go on He went on to learn English and French. (He ended one period of time before this.) He went on learning English and French. (He continued learning the languages.)
quit She quit to work here. (She quit another job in order to work here.) She quit working here. (She quit her job here. She doesn’t work here anymore.)
regret I regret promising to help you. (I’m sorry that I made the promise.) I regret to tell you that we can't hire you. (I’m telling you now, and I’m sorry.)
remember She remembered to visit her grandmother. (She didn’t forget to visit.) She remembered visiting her grandmother. (She had memories of this time.)
stop I stopped to call you. (I interrupted another action in order to call you.) I stopped calling you. (I stopped this activity. Maybe we had a fight.)
try I tried to open the window. (I attempted this action but didn’t succeed.) I tried opening the window. (This was one option I sampled. Maybe the room was hot.)
Data retrieved from https://www.engvid.com/english-resource/verbs-followed-by- gerunds-and-infinitives/