Reading: Infinitive vs. Gerund



There are several rules when we talk about gerunds and infinitives. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to know and memorize all the verbs, adjectives, nouns, and expressions followed by one or the other.

Below, we tried to address most cases where these verb forms should be used:


The verb form characterized by the ending -ing.
The gerund is made from a verb and is used like a noun. It should be used:

  • After certain verbs:

Verbs commonly followed by a gerund

abhor defend fancy omit resume
acknowledge delay fear permit risk
admit detest feel like picture shirk
advise discontinue feign postpone shun
allow discuss finish practice suggest
anticipate dislike forgive prevent support
appreciate dispute give up (stop) put off tolerate
avoid dread keep (continue) recall understand
be worth endure keep on recollect urge
can’t help enjoy mention recommend warrant
celebrate escape mind (object to) report
confess evade miss resent
consider explain necessitate resist

My sister postponed working on the project.
They avoid going there.

  • After certain verbs:

Expressions commonly followed by a gerund

be good can’t stand how about object to
be used to can’t help It is no use there is no point (in)
be worth feel like look forward to what about

I can’t help listening to their conversation.
It was worth coming tonight.

  • After prepositions:

I talked to her before leaving.
You cannot win without playing.

  • After adjectives + preposition:

Sarah is tired of waiting for him.
He is afraid of losing her.

  • After nouns + preposition:

There is no interest in finding the answer.
Tell me the advantages of doing this.

  • After verbs + preposition:

I thought about asking him.
My mom insisted on telling me.

  • As the subject of the sentence:

Running is a great exercise.
Painting is my favorite hobby.

  • As the object (direct or indirect):

You know I enjoy reading.
I miss staying home with you.

  • The verbs go and come when talking about physical activity or sports:

I go swimming every morning.
Would you like to come jogging with me?


The base form of a verb.
The infinitive can be used with or without to. It should be used:

  • Infinitive with to:

Verbs commonly followed by an infinitive

agree consent hesitate pretend struggle
appear dare hope profess swear
arrange decide hurry promise tend
ask demand incline prove threaten
attempt deserve learn refuse turn out
beg determine manage remain venture
can/can’t afford elect mean request volunteer
can/can’t wait endeavor need resolve wait
care expect neglect say want
chance fail offer seek wish
choose get pay seem would like
claim grow (up) plan shudder yearn
come guarantee prepare strive

It seems to be the wrong answer.
He promises to do it every time.

  • After many adjectives:

I’m happy to announce your promotion.
She was pleased to help her friend.

  • After ‘the first’, ‘the second’, ‘the last’, ‘the only’…:

He is always the first to say no.
June was the last one to arrive.

  • After question words (but ‘why’):

I’m lost. I need to ask where to go.
You need to think about whom to invite.

  • After would like / love / prefer / hate:

I would like to move to another city.
I know she would hate to come.

  • To indicate purpose:

She works hard to save money.
I’ll buy more books to read.

  • Frequently after impersonal pronouns (something, anywhere, nobody, etc):

I don’t have anything to do later.
We must find somewhere to go after the party.

Infinitive without to:

  • After modal verbs (shall, must, can, would, etc):

This might be interesting.
Bob will talk to him later.

  • After the verbs ‘let’ and ‘make’ (let/make someone do something):

My dad made me come.
You make me feel good.

  • After certain expressions:

I would rather go home later.
You**’d better find** a new job.

  • After the question word ‘why’:

Why pay that much?
Why not ask for help?

  • After sense verbs:

I didn’t hear you call me.
He watches his son play soccer on weekends.

  • After ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘than’, ‘as’, and ‘like’:

You are late. Stand up and go!
I need to relax, to do something like watch TV.

  • After ‘rather than’:

She’ll come here rather than go there.
I’ll have a coke rather than drink a beer.

Verbs followed by a gerund or infinitive with little to no change in meaning:

  • Example: I love to eat pizza. / I love eating pizza.
begin can’t stand hate love propose
can’t bear continue l ike prefer start

Verbs followed by a gerund or infinitive with a change in meaning:

- forget

It refers to habitual action, to a past action. It means to forget or not what you did or what happened. I forgot talking to him. (I don’t have the memory of talking to him before.)
It can refer to future action. It can also mean forgetting to do something. I forgot to talk to him. (I didn’t talk to him because I forgot to do it.)

- go on

It means ‘to continue’. He went on directing the movies. (He continued directing the movies.)
It refers to a change of action. When someone starts to perform a different action. He went on to direct the movies. (He started something new.)

- quit

It means to stop doing something or leave a job or a place. Sandy quit studying. (Sandy doesn’t study anymore.)
It means the purpose of someone stopping doing something or leaving a job or a place. Sandy quit to study. (Sandy quit something in order to study.)

- regret

It means to regret having done something. I regret telling you that. (I’m sorry that I told you that.)
It usually means regretting what is going to be reported. Most of the time, it is used when talking about bad news. I regret to tell you that. (I’m telling you now, and I’m sorry.)

- remember

It refers to a past action. It means remembering having done something I remembered going to my grandma’s. (I had memories of this time.)
It refers to future action. It means remembering to do something: I remembered to go to my grandma’s. (I didn’t forget to go there.)

- stop

It means no longer performing an action. She stopped calling him. (She stopped doing this activity)
It means stopping to do something. She stopped to call him. (She interrupted another action in order to call him.)

- try

It means trying, proving, doing something to see what will happen. My brother tried closing the door. (This was one option I sampled.)
It means making an effort for something, trying to do something. My brother tried to close the door. (My brother attempted this action but he didn’t succeed.)

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