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GERUND

The gerund looks exactly the same as a present participle, but it is useful to understand the
difference between the two. The gerund always has the same function as a noun (although it
looks like a verb). Some uses of the gerund are covered on this page. A separate page deals
with verbs that are followed by the gerund.
1) THE GERUND AS THE SUBJECT OF THE SENTENCE
EXAMPLES
Eating people is wrong.
Hunting tigers is dangerous.
Flying makes me nervous.
Brushing your teeth is important.
Smoking causes lung cancer.
2) THE GERUND AS THE COMPLEMENT OF THE VERB 'TO BE'
EXAMPLES

One of his duties is attending meetings.


The hardest thing about learning English is understanding the gerund.
One of life's pleasures is having breakfast in bed.
3) THE GERUND AFTER PREPOSITIONS
The gerund must be used when a verb comes after a preposition. This is also true of certain
expressions ending in a preposition, for example the expressions in spite of & there's no
point in.
EXAMPLES

Can you sneeze without opening your mouth?


She is good at painting.
She avoided him by walking on the opposite side of the road.
We arrived in Madrid after driving all night.
My father decided against postponing his trip to Hungary.
There's no point in waiting.
In spite of missing the train, we arrived on time.
4) THE GERUND AFTER PHRASAL VERBS
Phrasal verbs are composed of a verb + preposition or adverb.
EXAMPLES
When will you give up smoking?
She always puts off going to the dentist.
He kept on asking for money.
Jim ended up buying a new TV after his old one broke.

5) There are some phrasal verbs that include the word "to" as a preposition for
example to look forward to, to take to, to be accustomed to, to get around to, & to be
used to. It is important to recognise that the word "to" is a preposition in these cases
because it must be followed by a gerund. It is not part of the infinitive form of the
verb. You can check whether "to" is a preposition or part of the infinitive. If you can put
the pronoun "it" after the word "to" and form a meaningful sentence, then the word
"to" is a preposition and must be followed by a gerund.
EXAMPLES
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I look forward to it.
I am used to waiting for buses.
I am used to it.
She didn't really take to studying English.
She didn't really take to it.
When will you get around to mowing the grass?
When will you get around to it?

6) THE GERUND IN COMPOUND NOUNS


In compound nouns using the gerund, it is clear that the meaning is that of a noun, not of a
continuous verb. For example, with the word "swimming pool" it is a pool for swimming in, it
is not a pool that is swimming.
EXAMPLES
I am giving Sally a driving lesson.
They have a swimming pool in their back yard.
I bought some new running shoes.
7) THE GERUND AFTER SOME EXPRESSIONS
The gerund is necessary after the expressions can't help, can't stand, to be worth, & it's no
use.
EXAMPLES
She couldn't help falling in love with him.
I can't stand being stuck in traffic jams.
It's no use trying to escape.
It might be worth phoning the station to check the time of the train.

INFINITIVE
FORMING THE INFINITIVE
The infinitive is the base form of a verb. In English, when we talk about the infinitive we are
usually referring to the present infinitive, which is the most common. There are, however,
four other forms of the infinititive: the perfect infinitive, the perfect continuous infinitive, the
continuous infinitive, & the passive infinitive.
The infinitive has two forms:
the to-infinitive = to + base
the zero infinitive = base
The present infinitive base is the verb form you will find in a dictionary.

To-infinitive Zero infinitive


to sit sit
to eat eat
to have have
to remember remember

The negative infinitive is formed by putting not in front of any form of the
infinitive.

EXAMPLES
I decided not to go to London.
He asked me not to be late.
I'd like you not to sing so loudly.
I'd rather not eat meat.
I might not come.

FUNCTIONS OF THE TO-INFINITIVE


The to-infinitive is used in many sentence constructions, often expressing the purpose of
something or someone's opinion about something. The to-infinitive is used following a large
collection of different verbs as well. See this page about verbs followed by infinitives.
1) THE TO-INFINITIVE TO INDICATE THE PURPOSE OR INTENTION OF AN ACTION
In this case to has the same meaning as in order to or so as to.
EXAMPLES
She came to collect her pay cheque.
The three bears went to find firewood.
I am calling to ask you about dad.
You sister has gone to finish her homework.

2) THE TO-INFINITIVE AS THE SUBJECT OF THE SENTENCE


This is a formal usage and is far more common in written English than spoken
EXAMPLES
To be or not to be, that is the question.
To know her is to love her.
To visit the Grand Canyon is my life-long dream.
To understand statistics, that is our aim.

3) THE TO-INFINITIVE TO INDICATE WHAT SOMETHING CAN OR WILL BE USED


FOR
In this pattern, the to-infinitive follows a noun or pronoun.
EXAMPLES
The children need a garden to play in.
I would like a sandwich to eat.
I don't have anything to wear.
Would you like something to drink?

4) THE TO-INFINITIVE AFTER ADJECTIVES


There is a common pattern using the to-infinitive with an adjective. These phrases are
formed:
subject + to be + adjective + (for/of someone) + to-infinitive + (rest of sentence)
Subject + to + (+ for/of + to- (+ rest of sentence)
be adjective someone) infinitive
It is good to talk.
It is good of you to talk to me.
It is important to be
patient.
It is important for Jake to be patient with his little
brother.
I am happy to be here.
The is naughty to destroy our couch.
dog

5) THE TO-INFINITIVE TO MAKE A COMMENT OR JUDGEMENT


To use the to-infinitive when making a comment or judgement about a noun, the pattern is:
Subject + to be + noun phrase + to-infinitive
Subject + to be + noun phrase + to-infinitive
It was a stupid place to park.
That is a dangerous way to behave.
What you said was a rude thing to say.
This is the right thing to do.
Those were the wrong kind of eggs to buy.
Jim is the best person to hire.

6) THE TO-INFINITIVE WITH ADVERBS


The to-infinitive is used frequently with the adverbs too and enough to express the
reasoning behind our satisfaction or insatisfaction. The pattern is that too and enough are
placed before or after the adjective, adverb, or noun that they modify in the same way they
would be without the to-infinitive. We then follow them by the to-infinitive to explain the
reason why the quantity is excessive, sufficient, or insufficient. Normally the to-infinitive and
everything that follows can be removed, leaving a sentence that still functions
grammatically.
EXAMPLES
There's too much sugar to put in this bowl.
I had too many books to carry.
This soup is too hot to eat.
She was too tired to work.
He arrived too late to see the actors.
I've had enough food to eat.
She's old enough to make up her own mind.
There isn't enough snow to ski on.
You're not old enough to have grand-children!
7) THE TO-INFINITIVE WITH QUESTION WORDS
The verbs ask, decide, explain, forget, know, show, tell, & understand can be followed by a
question word such as where, how, what, who, & when + the to-infinitive.
EXAMPLES
She asked me how to use the washing machine.
Do you understand what to do?
Tell me when to press the button.
I've forgotten where to put this little screw.
I'm not sure I know who to call.

FUNCTIONS OF THE ZERO INFINITIVE


1) THE ZERO INFINITIVE AFTER AUXILIARIES
EXAMPLES
She can't speak to you.
He should give her some money.
Shall I talk to him?
Would you like a cup of coffee?
I might stay another night in the hotel.
They must leave before 10.00 a.m.
2) THE ZERO INFINITIVE AFTER VERBS OF PERCEPTION
With verbs of perception, the pattern is verb + object + zero infinitive.
EXAMPLES
He saw her fall from the cliff.
We heard them close the door.
They saw us walk toward the lake.
She felt the spider crawl up her leg.
3) THE ZERO INFINITIVE AFTER THE VERBS 'MAKE' AND 'LET'
EXAMPLES
Her parents let her stay out late.
Let's go to the cinema tonight.
You made me come with you.
Don't make me study that boring grammar book!
4) THE ZERO INFINITIVE AFTER THE EXPRESSION 'HAD BETTER'
EXAMPLES
We had better take some warm clothing.
She had better ask him not to come.
We had better reserve a room in the hotel.
You'd better give me your address.
They had better work harder on their homework.
5) THE ZERO INFINITIVE WITH "WHY"
The question word why is followed by the zero infinitive when making suggestions.
EXAMPLES
Why wait until tomorrow?
Why not ask him now?
Why leave before the end of the game?
Why walk when we can go in the car?
Why not buy a new bed?

Gerunds and Infinitives with Verbs Part 1


Here are some of the most common verbs that are usually followed by the gerund:
enjoy I enjoyed living in France
fancy I fancy seeing a film tonight
discuss We discussed going on holiday together
dislike I dislike waiting for buses
finish We've finished preparing for the meeting
mind I don't mind coming early
suggest He suggested staying at the Grand Hotel
recommend They recommended meeting earlier
keep He kept working, although he felt ill
avoid She avoided talking to her boss
And here are some common verbs followed by 'to' and the infinitive:
agree She agreed to give a presentation at the meeting
ask* I asked to leave early / I asked him to leave early
decide We decided to go out for dinner
help* He helped to clean the kitchen / he helped his flatmate to clean the
kitchen
plan She plans to buy a new flat next year
hope I hope to pass the exam
learn They are learning to sing
want* I want to come to the party / I want him to come to the party
would like* I would like to see her tonight / I would like you to see her tonight
promise We promised not to be late

Gerunds and Infinitives with Verbs Part 2


Here are some more verbs that are usually followed by the gerund:
Miss She misses living near the beach
Appreciate I appreciated her helping me.
Delay He delayed doing his taxes.
postpone He postponed returning to Paris
practise She practised singing the song.
consider She considered moving to New York.
can't stand He can't stand her smoking in the office.
can't help He can't help talking so loudly.
Risk He risked being caught.
Admit He admitted cheating on the test.

And here are some more verbs followed by 'to' and the infinitive:
can afford We can't afford to go on holiday.
manage He managed to open the door without the key.
prepare* They prepared to take the test /
the teachers prepared the students to take the test.
demand He demanded to speak to Mr. Harris.
choose I chose to help.
Offer Frank offered to drive us to the supermarket.
Wait She waited to buy a movie ticket.
would hate* I'd hate to be late / I'd hate you to be late.
would love* I'd love to come / I'd love him to come.
seem Nancy seemed to be disappointed.

Gerunds and Infinitives with Verbs Part 3


Here are some more verbs that are usually followed by the gerund:
deny He denied committing the crime.
mention He mentioned going to that college.
imagine He imagines working there one day.
tolerate I tolerated her talking.
understand I understand his quitting.
involve The job involves travelling to Japan once a month.
complete He completed renovating the house.
report He reported her stealing the money.
anticipate I anticipated arriving late.
recall Tom recalled using his credit card at the store.

And here are some more verbs followed by 'to' and the infinitive:
expect* They expect to arrive early / they expect Julie to arriveearly
intend We intend to visit you next spring.
pretend The child pretended to be a monster.
refuse The guard refused to let them enter the building.
tend He tends to be a little shy.
would prefer* I'd prefer to do it / I'd prefer him to do it.
deserve He deserves to go to jail.
appear His health appeared to be better.
arrange Naomi arranged to stay with her cousin in Miami.
claim She claimed to be a princess.

Gerunds and Infinitives with Verbs Part 4


These verbs can be followed by either the gerund or the infinitive with a change in meaning.

Remember + gerund

This is when you remember something that has happened in the past. You have a memory of
it, like being able to see a movie of it in your head.
I remember going to the beach when I was a child. (= I have a memory of going to the
beach).
He remembers closing the door. (= He has a memory of closing the door).
Remember + to + infinitive

This is when you think of something that you need to do. (And usually, you then do the
thing).
I remembered to buy milk. (= I was walking home and the idea that I needed milk
came into my head, so I bought some).
She remembered to send a card to her grandmother.
Forget + gerund

This is the opposite of remember + gerund. It's when you forget about a memory,
something that you've done in the past.
Have we really studied this topic before? I forget reading about it.
I told my brother that we'd spent Christmas at Granny's house in 1985, but he'd
forgotten going there.
Forget + to + infinitive
This is the opposite of remember + to + infinitive. It's when you want to do something, but
you forget about it.
I forgot to call my mother. (= I wanted to call my mother, but when it was a good time
to call her, I forgot. I was thinking about something else, and the idea to call my
mother didn't come into my head).
She keeps forgetting to bring his book back.
Try + gerund

This is when you do something as an experiment. The thing you do is not difficult, but you
want to see if doing it will have the result that you want.
I wanted to stop smoking, so I tried using nicotine patches. (= Using nicotine patches
was easy, but I wanted to know if it would help me stop smoking).
She tried giving up chocolate, but it didn't help her lose weight. (It was easy for her to
give up chocolate. She gave it up to see if it would help her lose weight, but it didn't).
Try + to + infinitive

This is when the thing you do itself is difficult and you don't succeed in doing it.
I tried to lift the suitcase, but it was too heavy.
She tried to catch the bus, but she couldn't run fast enough.
Look at the difference:

I tried giving up chocolate (it was no problem to stop eating chocolate) but it didn't
make me feel more healthy.
I tried to give up chocolate, but it was too hard. I always ate some when my friends
offered it to me.
It was too hot in the room. I tried opening the window (it was easy to open the
window). It didn't help though, because it was very hot outside too.
I tried to open the window, but I couldn't because it was stuck.
Stop + gerund

When we stop doing something it means the verb in the gerund is the thing that we stop. It
can mean 'stop forever' or 'stop at that moment'.
I stopped working when I was expecting a baby. (Working is the thing I stopped).
My grandmother stopped driving when she was 85. (Driving is the thing she stopped).
My boss came into the room, so I stopped browsing the internet.
There was a fire alarm, so I stopped eating and went outside.
Stop + to + infinitive

In this case, we stop something else in order to do the verb in the infinitive.
I stopped to eat lunch. (I stopped something else, maybe working or studying, because
I wanted to eat lunch.
She was shopping and she stopped to get a cup of coffee. (She stopped shopping
because she wanted to get a cup of coffee).
Look at the difference:

I stopped smoking. (I gave up cigarettes OR I threw away my cigarette at that


moment).
I stopped to smoke. (I stopped doing something else because I wanted to have a
cigarette).
Regret + gerund

This is when you are sorry about something you did in the past and you wish you hadn't
done it.
I regret going to bed so late. I'm really tired today.
She regrets leaving school when she was sixteen. She wishes that she had studied
more and then gone to university.
Regret + to + infinitive

We use this construction when we are giving someone bad news, in quite a formal way. The
verb is almost always something like 'say' or 'tell' or 'inform'.
I regret to tell you that the train has been delayed.
The company regrets to inform employees that the London office will close next year.