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Grammar Details

Gerunds and Infinitives

Gerunds vs Infinitives


When To Use Gerunds and Infinitives

I like shopping.

I like to shop.

I enjoy teaching.

I enjoy to teach. (Incorrect)

I’m looking forward to meeting you. (Correct)

I’m looking forward to meet you. (Incorrect) {Yahan ‘looking forward to’ ek phrasal verb hai jisme ‘to’ preposition hai aur preposition ke baad hamesha gerund aata hai.}

Gerunds and Infinitives

Gerunds and Infinitives can be either the subject or object of the sentence.  In this case they act as nouns in the sentence.

In English when one verb follows another the second verb can either be the gerund or the to infinitive. It depends on the first verb.






Teach + ing = teaching



To + teach = To teach


Gerund            Swimming is fun.

Infinitive         To swim is fun.

Usually a gerund is used as the subject of the sentence.  An infinitive is very formal.

Teaching is my passion.

Laughing is a good exercise.

Dancing is an excellent form of exercise.
I really don’t like running.



Gerund           I like singing. (Correct)

Infinitive             I like to sing. (Correct)

Gerund          I dislike singing. (Correct)

Infinitive         I dislike to sing. (Incorrect)

Deciding between a gerund and an infinitive as objects is much more difficult than subjects.  You must learn which verbs are followed by gerunds, infinitives, or both.

Verbs followed by -ing (-ing but not to-infinitive) include: admit, avoid, be used to, consider, delay, deny, dislike, escape, enjoy, fancy, feel like, finish, forgive, imagine, involve, give up, keep (on), imagine, mind, miss, practise, risk, put off.

  • She admitted making mistake. (Not: to make)
  • I considered asking for my money back.
  • I dislike eating dinner alone. (Don’t say: I dislike to eat dinner alone.)
  • Rohan denies breaking the window.(Not: to make)
  • I avoid going shopping on Sundays.
  • I always enjoy teaching.
  • We haven’t finished eating yet.
  • I don’t mind waiting.
  • I feel like going for a swim.
  • I can't stand being cold.
  • I can't put off going to the dentist any longer.
  • I usually avoid going into town late at night.
  • Have you finished reading that book yet?


  • Verbs followed by an object + a gerund include: (verb+object+gerund)

Some of these verbs (e.g. dislike, imagine, involve, mind, miss and risk) can be used with an object before the -ing form. If it is a pronoun, it is in the object form (me, him, her, us, them):

  • I can’t imagine Rohan speaking in public.
  • Do you mind me being here while you’re working?
  • He risked his life helping another man escape the fire


  • Verbs followed by a to infinitive include: agree, arrange, attempt, choose, decide, fail, hope, learn, manage, offer, plan, seem.
  • She agreed to help Jojo with his homework.
  • He attempted to escape through a window.
  • The driver attempted to remove the flat tyre.
  • I hope to see you again tomorrow.
  • I can’t afford to go on holiday.
  • I can't afford to buy a house.
  • He chose to fight.
  • She hopes to go to university next year.
  • My sisters never learnt to swim.


  • Verbs followed by an object + the to infinitive (verb+object+to+infinitive) include: advise, allow, command, forbid, force, invite, order, persuade, remind, teach, tell.
  • I advised him to call the police.
  • Who taught you to cook?
  • You can't force her to makedecision.
  • She invited me to stay with her for 2 days.
  • Please remind me to phone Meera.


  • Verbs that can be followed either directly by the to infinitive or by an object + the to infinitive include: ask, expect, help, intend, like, love, hate, mean, prefer, want, wish.
  • I certainly intended to go to the party.
  • We really expected Sally to pass the exam.
  • Note this difference:
  • I want to have a cat = It will be my cat.
  • I want her to have a cat = It will be her cat.
  • Dad likes to wash the car = Dad washes the car.
  • Dad likes John to wash the car = John washes the car.


  • Some verbs may be followed either by the to infinitive or by the -ing form with little or no change in meaning. These verbs include: begin, start, cease, continue, intend, like, love, hate, prefer.
  • He began to run around shouting.
  • He began running around shouting.
  • She likes to swim in the sea.
  • She likes swimming in the sea.
  • I can’t bear to see violence.
  • I can’t bear seeing violence.

Verbs followed by a to-infinitive or -ing


Hate, like, love and prefer can be followed either by -ing or a to-infinitive. The difference in meaning is often small. The -ing form emphasises the verb itself. The to-infinitive puts the emphasis more on the preference for, or the results of, the action.


-ing form


love cooking Indian food. (emphasis on the process itself and enjoyment of it)

like to drink juice in the morning, and tea at lunchtime. (emphasis more on the preference or habit)

She hates cleaning her room. (emphasis on the process itself and no enjoyment of it)

hate to be the only person to disagree. (emphasis more on the result: I would prefer not to be in that situation.)

Most people prefer watching a film at the cinema rather than on TV. (emphasis on the process itself and enjoyment of it)

We prefer to drive during the day whenever we can. (emphasis more on the result and on the habit or preference. The speaker doesn’t necessarily enjoy the process of driving at any time of day.)

Hatelikeloveprefer with would or should

When hate, like, love and prefer are used with would or should, only the to-infinitive is used, not the -ing form:

She’d love to get a job nearer home.

Not: She’d love getting a job nearer home.

Would you like to have dinner with us on Friday?

To-infinitive or -ing form with a change in meaning

Some verbs can be followed by a to-infinitive or the -ing form, but with a change in meaning:

go on









-ing form


Working in London means leaving home at 6.30. (Because I work in London, this is the result or consequence.)

I didn’t mean to make you cry. (I didn’t intend to make you cry.)

He went on singing after everyone else had finished. (He continued singing without stopping.)

She recited a poem, then went on to sing a lovely folk song. (She recited the poem first, then she sang the song.)

tried searching the web and finally found an address for him. (I searched the web to see what information I could find.)

tried to email Simon but it bounced back. (I tried/attempted to email him but I did not succeed.)

She stopped crying as soon as she saw her mother. (She was crying, and then she didn’t cry anymore.)

We stopped to buy some water at the motorway service area. (We were travelling and we stopped for a short time in order to buy some water.)

Verbs followed by an infinitive without to


Let and make are followed by an infinitive without to in active voice sentences. They always have an object (underlined) before the infinitive:

Let me show you this DVD I’ve got.

They made us wait while they checked our documents.

Not: They made us to wait …


Help can be followed by an infinitive without to or a to-infinitive:

She helped me find a direction in life.

Everyone can help to reduce carbon emissions by using public transport.

Verbs followed by -ing or an infinitive without to

A group of verbs connected with feeling, hearing and seeing can be used with -ing or with an infinitive without to:







When they are used with -ing, these verbs emphasise the action or event in progress. When they are used with an infinitive without to, they emphasise the action or event seen as a whole, or as completed.



infinitive without to

She heard people shouting in the street below and looked out of the window. (emphasises that the shouting probably continued or was repeated)

heard someone shout ‘Help!’, so I ran to the river. (emphasises the whole event: the person probably shouted only once)

A police officer saw him running along the street. (emphasises the running as it was happening)

Emily saw Philip run out of Sandra’s office. (emphasises the whole event from start to finish)

  • Some verbs may be followed either by the to infinitive or by the -ing form but the meaning of the sentence changes depending on the form that is used. These verbs include: try, forget, remember.
  • I remembered to switch the lights off before we went out.
  • I remember switching the lights off before we went out.
  • She tried to talk to him, but his secretary wouldn’t put the call through.
  • She tried talking to him, but he wouldn’t listen.

Particularly after verbs such as go and come, the to infinitive is understood to express purpose.

  • She has gone to do the shopping.
  • They came here to learn English.

Use of the verb followed by the -ing form concentrates on what happens. The second verb is really the object of the first one. These verbs include: remember, forget, try.

  • I definitely remember switching the lights off before we went out.
  • She tried talking to him, but he wouldn’t listen.

Some set expressions are followed by -ing. These include: it’s not worth, it’s no use, and it’s no fun.

  • It’s no fun going out alone.
  • It’s no use phoning him; he’s gone away.
  • It’s worth trying one more time.


The End

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