The Gerund is the present participle (-ing) form of a verb, as moving, thinking, or cooking.
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The Infinitive is the base form of the verb, as to move, to think, or to run.
Gerunds and Infinitives can be used in sentences after certain (main) verbs. Which one to use depends on the main verb and the meaning you want to express with your sentence.
Below you will learn the rules of using verbs with gerunds and infinities, together with verbs list and many examples to clarify the usage.
Examples: Clarifying the Differences in Gerund and Infinitive Usage
Verb: To Prefer
You can use gerund and infinitive with “to prefer“ interchangeably; however, the syntax is slightly different.
prefer + gerund: “I’d prefer doing this TO doing that.”
prefer + infinitive: “I’d prefer to do this (rather) THAN to do that.”
Julia: What kind of music do you listen to?
Marc: I generally prefer listening to hip-hop.
Julia: Really? You prefer to listen to hip-hop rather than rock?
Marc: Yeah, I really do. What about you?
Julia: Actually, I don’t really listen to much pop music.
Marc: Oh yeah? Why is that?
Julia: I’m a concert pianist, so I prefer listening to classical music.
Marc: That’s interesting. I prefer listening to live classical music to hearing recordings. When’s your next performance?
Verbs: To Remember, To Forget
Rules and Meaning
remember + infinitive = remember to perform a duty or task
remember + gerund = recall that something happened in the past
forget + infinitive = forget to perform a duty or task.
forget + gerund = forgot that something happened in the past
(To forget is usually used in the negative.)
Lawyer: So, what happened on the night of January 12th?
Witness: Well, I remember walking home at about 10 p.m.
Lawyer: And do you remember hearing any strange sounds?
Witness: Yes. I remember hearing running footsteps coming from up the block. And I got scared, so I hurried to my door.
Lawyer: And what happened then?
Witness: Well, I tried to go in, but I couldn’t find my keys in my purse. At that moment, I realized that I’d forgotten to put them in my purse after work. I tried to think back to when I’d last seen my keys, and I remembered leaving them in my desk drawer.
Lawyer: So, you forgot to bring keys home from work. OK, What do remember happening next?
Witness: I remember hearing a man’s voice.
Lawyer: And what kind of voice was this?
Witness: I’ll never forget hearing that voice. It was the scariest voice I’d ever heard. I remember being terrified.
Lawyer: What did the man say?
Witness: He told me to open the door and let him inside. I told him that I’d forgotten to bring my keys home, but he didn’t believe me. So, I opened my purse to show him. And when I did, I realized that I had remembered to put my spray can of mace in my purse, so I grabbed it and sprayed him in the face. I’ll never forget seeing him grab his eyes and stumble away in the dark.
Verb: To Regret
Rules and Meaning
regret + infinitive = to say, to tell, to inform someone of bad news.
regret + gerund = regret something that happened in the past
Lieutenant: Ma’am, I regret to inform you that your husband has been killed in the war.
Lieutenant: And I regret to say that his body was lost in the explosion.
Wife: (still crying) I regret letting him enlist for the army…
Lieutenant: We all regret having to lose Deputy Jones, ma’am. He was a good man. And, at this point, I think most of us regret even starting this war.
Verb: To Try
Rules & Meaning
try + infinitive = to make an effort
try + gerund = to experiment with a new method to see if it works
Alice: Hey, what are you doing?
Tony: I’m trying to start my car. (turns key again) But it won’t start.
Alice: Have you tried putting the car in “Park mode”? It won’t start unless it’s in Park mode.
Tony: Yes, of course. I did that first.
Alice: Have you tried pumping the gas pedal? I’ve heard that helps.
Tony: I would have tried doing that, but that only works on a manual car. Mine’s an automatic.
Alice: I’ll tell you what I would do. I’d try calling a mechanic!
Verbs Followed by Object and Infinitive
Some verbs MUST be followed by an object before the infinitive.
Example: They invited me to go to the party.
- invited = verb
- me = object
- to go = infinitive
Other verbs CAN be followed by an object before the infinitive.
Example: She wants me to go to the store. / She wants to go to the store.
Verbs Followed by Object and Gerund
Some verbs MUST have an object before a gerund.
Example: The police found the man climbing the wall.
- found = verb
- the man = object
- climbing = gerund
Example: She overheard them talking about the closure of the factory.
- overheard = verb
- them = object
- talking = gerund
Some verbs CAN have an object or no object before a gerund.
Example: They can’t stand him driving his old car. / They can’t stand driving his old car.
Example: I remember you buying that jumper. / I remember buying that jumper.
Group your students in couples or small groups and let them ask and answer the following questions:
What did you forget to do last week?
What did you remember to do last week?
What do you remember doing as a child?
What do you not remember doing as a child?
What bad habits do you want to stop doing?
What do you regret doing?
Visiting another country
Do you remember doing anything that seems to have surprised or confused someone of a different nationality?
Have you stopped doing anything since that you used to do?
Have you tried practicing any new customs to adapt to another culture?
If I were visiting your country, what should I try to do?
Do you ever stop to think about your lifestyle in your country?