Gerunds and infinitives

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Gerunds (doing, seeing, going, etc.) and infinitives (to do, to see, to go, etc.) are words that are derived from verbs but function as other parts of speech (mostly nouns). Using them correctly can be troublesome because some verbs are followed by infinitives, some by gerunds, and some by either. The following lists should prove helpful.

Verbs followed by infinitives

  • attempt
  • choose
  • decide
  • expect
  • fail
  • hope
  • intend
  • learn
  • mean (intend)
  • need
  • plan
  • pretend
  • promise
  • want
  • wish

e.g., I expected to finish the exam in two hours, but I failed to keep track of the time.

Verbs followed by gerunds

  • appreciate
  • avoid
  • consider
  • deny
  • dislike
  • enjoy
  • finish
  • involve
  • keep
  • mind
  • quit
  • recall
  • recommend
  • resent
  • risk

e.g., He denied being at the scene of the accident and resented having to deny his responsibility.

Verbs followed by infinitives or gerunds (where choice does not affect meaning)

  • begin
  • hate
  • prefer
  • love
  • start
  • try
  • like
  • propose

e.g., Let's begin to think about the assignment.

e.g., Let's begin thinking about the assignment.

Verbs followed by infinitives or gerunds (where choice does affect meaning)

  • mean
  • intend
  • go on
  • remember
  • forget
  • regret
  • stop
  • try

For the above verbs, the infinitive looks to the future, while the gerund looks to the past.

e.g., I have to remember to buy bread. (looks to the future)

e.g., I remember buying bread. (looks to the past)

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