Free worksheet to learn differences in gerund and infinitive usage for ESL teachers and students. (Free download available.)

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Verbs, Exercises & Examples


prefer:         + gerund:        I’d prefer V+ing to V+ing

                   infinitive:     I’d prefer to+V (rather) than to+V.

                    (Actually, usually the full phrases aren’t usually used.)

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 popular music.
Marc:Oh yeah?  What 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?

Remember & Forget

remember:   +infinitive:    = remember to perform a duty or task.

                      +gerund:       = recall that something happened in the past

forget:         +infinitive:      = forget to perform a duty or task.

                     +gerund:         = forgot that something happened in the past
                                                  (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 10:00.
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 the voice.
Lawyer:And what voice was this?
Witness:I’ll never forget hearing that voice.  It was the scariest voice I’d ever heard.  I remember being very scared.
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.


regret:           +infinitive:    = to say, to tell, to inform someone of bad

                      +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.


try:      +infinitive:    = make an effort

            +gerund:       = 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.”  It won’t start unless it’s in Park.  
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!


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