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Gerunds and Infinitives

Gerunds and infinitives are sometimes referred to as verb complements. They may function as subjects or objects in a sentence.

What are Gerunds?

Spelling Tip

Verbing (Present Participle)

  • Add ing to most verbs. Ex. play > playing, cry > crying, bark > barking
  • For verbs that end in e, remove the e and add ing. Ex: slide > sliding, ride > riding
  • For verbs that end in ie, change the ie to y and add ing. Ex: die > dying, tie > tying
  • For a verb whose last syllable is written with a consonant-vowel-consonant and is stressed, double the last letter before adding ing. Ex: beg > begging, begin > beginning. However: enter > entering (last syllable is not stressed)

A gerund is a verb in its ing (present participle) form that functions as a noun that names an activity rather than a person or thing. Any action verb can be made into a gerund.

Gerunds can appear at the beginning of a sentence when used as a subject:

  1. Jogging is a hobby of mine.

Gerunds can act as an object following the verb:

  1. Daniel quit smoking a year ago.

Gerunds can serve as an object after a preposition:

  1. I look forward to helping you paint the house.

Note: The same spelling rules that apply to the progressive tenses also apply to gerunds.

Some verbs and verb phrases are directly followed a gerund:

  1. Paul avoids using chemicals on the vegetables he grows.

Some verbs can be followed by a gerund or an infinitive without causing a change in meaning:

  1. Some people prefer getting up early in the morning.
  2. Some people prefer to get up early in the morning

Some verbs can be followed by a gerund or infinitive but with a change in meaning:

  1. He remembered sending the fax. (He remembered the act of send the fax)
  2. He remembered to send the fax. (He remembered the fax and sent it.)

What are Infinitives?

An infinitive is a verb form that acts as other parts of speech in a sentence. It is formed with to + base form of the verb. Ex: to buy, to work.

Infinitives can be used as:

an object following the verb:

  1. Jim always forgets to eat

a subject at the beginning of a sentence:

  1. To travel around the world requires a lot of time and money.

an adverb modifying a verb:

  1. You promised to buy me a diamond ring.

an adjective modifying a noun:

  1. Tara has the ability to succeed.

Some verbs are directly followed by an infinitive:

  1. Do you want to call your family now?

Some verbs are directly followed by a noun or pronoun and then by an infinitive:

  1. I convinced Catherine to become vegetarian.
  2. He advised me to sell all my shares of stock.

Some verbs can be followed by an infinitive or a gerund without causing a change in meaning:

  1. Will you continue working after you give birth?
  2. Will you continue to work after you give birth?

Some verbs can be followed by an infinitive or a gerund but with a change in meaning:

  1. He stopped drinking coffee. (He never drank coffee again.)
  2. He stopped to drink coffee. (He stopped what he was doing and drank some coffee.)

Exercises – Gerunds and Infinitives

Choose the correct gerund or infinitive from the parenthesis at the end of the sentence.

  1. She likes to get up early in the morning. (likes / dislikes)
  1. 1. Alan can’t stand _________ on trains. (riding/ to ride)
  2. Mr. Harris enjoys _________ people out to dinner. (inviting / to invite)
  3. In the old days, gentlemen challenged their rivals _______. (fighting / to fight)
  4. As the famous saying goes, there’s no use ______ over spilt milk. (crying / to cry)
  5. Jim stopped _________ his shoelace. Wait for him. (tying / to tie)
  6. My wife always volunteers ___________ cakes PTA meetings. (baking / to bake)
  7. Don’t waste my time ___________ about your salary. (complaining/ to complain)
  8. Eva is having trouble _________ on the exam. (concentrating / to concentrate)
  9. Please allow me ____________ your Facebook page. (joining / to join)
  10. You won’t forget _________milk on your way home, will you? (picking up /to pick up)

Answers:

  1. riding
  2. inviting
  3. to fight
  4. crying
  5. to tie
  6. to bake
  7. complaining
  8. concentrating
  9. to join
  10. to pick up

Reference Lists – Gerunds and Infinitives

List of common verbs and phrases that are followed by a gerund

  • 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

List of common verbs that can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive without causing a change in meaning

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

List of common verbs that can be followed by a gerund or infinitive but with a change in meaning

  • forget
  • remember
  • stop

List of common verbs are followed by an infinitive

  • 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

List of common verbs that are directly followed by a noun or pronoun and then by an infinitive

  • advise
  • allow
  • ask
  • cause
  • challenge
  • command
  • convince
  • expect
  • forbid
  • force
  • hire
  • instruct
  • invite
  • order
  • pay
  • permit
  • program
  • remind
  • teach
  • tell
  • urge
  • want
  • warn