Gerunds and Infinitives
 
 
 
 
Gerunds and Infinitives

The lesson includes a video program, an audio program explaining this grammar topic, the script for the audio program, a words in this story section, and other important information.
Video Program

Watch the video program explaining this grammar topic. Then listen to the audio program explaining this grammar topic.
Audio Program

Listen to the audio program explaining this grammar topic. Then read the following written information.
Gerunds and Infinitives
Welcome to another episode of Everyday Grammar on VOA Learning English.

English learners have difficulty with gerunds and infinitives. A gerund is the –ing form of a verb that functions the same as a noun. For example, “Running is fun.” In this sentence, “running” is the gerund. It acts just like a noun.

The infinitive form of a verb appears either as the basic form (with no marking) or with the word “to.” For example, you can say “I might run to the store” or “I like to run.” In this sentence, “to run” is the infinitive.

It is difficult for English learners to know whether to use a gerund or an infinitive after a verb.

    Here’s an example. Which sentence is correct?

    Sentence one: I suggested going to dinner.

    Sentence two: I suggested to go to dinner.

Sentence one, with the gerund, is correct. “I suggested going to dinner.” Why? You can only use a gerund after the verb “suggest.”

Let’s take the word “like.” You can say “I like" running” or “I like to run.” Both sentences have the same meaning. You can use either a gerund or an infinitive after “like.” Now let’s try “enjoy.” We can say, “I enjoy running.” But we cannot say, “I enjoy to run.” Why? Only a gerund can follow the verb “enjoy.”

Are you confused yet? You’re not alone. Gerunds and infinitives confuse even very advanced English learners.

Basically, some verbs are followed by gerunds, some verbs are followed by infinitives, and some verbs can be followed by gerunds or infinitives. Native speakers do not think about the difference. But English learners have to memorize the hundreds of different verb combinations.

Here are a few tips.

Tip number one: you almost always find a gerund after a preposition. For example, “She is afraid of flying.” In this sentence “of” is the preposition and “flying” is the gerund. You cannot say “She is afraid of to fly.” An infinitive cannot be the object of a preposition, only a gerund can. You could say, “She is afraid to fly,” but in this sentence, the preposition “of” is gone.

Tip number two: When you are talking about an activity, you usually use a gerund. For example, “I stopped smoking.” You can describe many activities by using “go” before a gerund. “Let’s go shopping,” or “We went skiing.”

Let’s see how much you know. Try to complete these sentences using the verb “study.” Ready? I’ll read the first part of the sentence and you finish it.

    I enjoy … (studying)

    I considered … (studying)

    I managed … (to study)

    I hope … (to study)

    I suggested … (studying)

    I like… … (studying) or … (to study)

This is only a simple introduction to a complicated grammar topic.

There is no quick and easy way to learn gerunds and infinitives. It takes years of practice and familiarity with the English language. Next time you read or listen to a VOA Learning English story, pay attention to use of gerunds and infinitives. Over time, you will begin to hear the right verb combination.

Below is a helpful reference list for using gerunds and infinitives.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

And I’m Ashley Thompson.

Adam Brock wrote this story for Learning English. Dr. Jill Robbins was the editor.
Words in This Story
  • gerund - n. an English noun formed from a verb by adding -ing
  • infinitive - n. the basic form of a verb; usually used with to except with modal verbs like should and could and certain other verbs like see and hear
  • preposition - n. a word or group of words that is used with a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to show direction, location, or time, or to introduce an object
Now it’s your turn. In the Facebook comments section below, write one sentence that uses a verb followed by a gerund or an infinitive.
Additional Information
Only a gerund can follow these verbs:

admit, advise, avoid, be used to, can’t help, can’t stand, consider, deny, discuss, dislike, end up, enjoy, feel like, finish, forget, get used to, give up, go on, have difficulty, have problems, have trouble, imagine, it’s no use, it’s worthwhile, keep, look forward to, mention, mind, miss, recommend, remember, quit, spend time, stop, suggest, understand, waste time, work at

Either a gerund or an infinitive can follow these verbs, and there is no change in meaning

begin, continue, hate, intend, like, love, prefer, start

Either a gerund or an infinitive can follow these verbs, but the meaning may change:

forget, remember, stop

An infinitive follows these verbs:

afford, agree, appear, arrange, ask, care, decide, demand, expect, fail, forget, hope, learn, manage, mean, offer, plan, prepare, pretend, promise, refuse, remember, seem, stop, volunteer, wait, want, wish

A noun or pronoun and an infinitive follow these verbs

advise, allow, ask, cause, challenge, command, convince, expect, forbid, force, hire, instruct, invite, order, pay, permit, program, remind, teach, tell, urge, want, warn
Source: Voice of America
 
Grammar Tips
Can You Catch These Native Speaker Mistakes?
(Beginner - Listening)

An audio lesson to help with your understanding of common mistakes. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed. Click here to visit the lesson page with the written script for this audio program.
Commonly Confused Words: Part One
(Beginner - Listening, reading)

A video lesson to help with your understanding of commonly confused words.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Click here to visit the lesson page.
Commonly Confused Words: Part One
(Beginner - Listening)

An audio lesson to help with your understanding of commonly confused words. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed. Click here to visit the lesson page with the written script for this audio program.
Commonly Confused Words: Part Two
(Beginner - Listening, reading)

A video lesson to help with your understanding of commonly confused words.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Click here to visit the lesson page.
Commonly Confused Words: Part Two
(Beginner - Listening)

An audio lesson to help with your understanding of commonly confused words. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed. Click here to visit the lesson page with the written script for this audio program.
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