Gerunds and Infinitives

Number 24 of 71 in B2 - UPPER-INTERMEDIATE

New English word? Translate any word using double click.

Gerunds and Infinitives

This is one of people’s biggest problems with English. There’s no fixed rule for this- That’s why it’s so difficult!

The question is this:
When you use two verbs together, for the second verb do you use ‘….ing’ or ‘to …..’?

This is as simple as I can make it, and it comes without a guarantee! (It works 92.73% of the time, under laboratory conditions)

Gerund (…ing)

1) After a preposition (not ‘to’)
Give up (smoking)
Carry on (working)
End up (going)

2) Enjoy, like*, love*, fancy, enjoy, dislike, hate*, avoid, prefer*, mind…
Would you mind helping me with my maths?
I don’t like doing homework, but OK!

3) Admit, consider, imagine, suggest, practise, try*
What would you suggest doing?
Try practising your English on Profesor Nativo Gratis! 😉

4) Miss, avoid, risk, postpone
Let’s avoid investing in oil.
I wouldn’t risk losing all our profits this year!

5) Start*, Begin*, Continue*, Finish, Delay..
Let’s begin

5) 3-part phrasal verbs
Look forward to (hearing)
Get/Be used to (getting up early)
Get around to (painting the bedroom)

The rest = Infinitive (‘to….’)

Verbs marked * can also use ‘to…’
I prefer eating in = I prefer to eat in, although they generally use ‘…ing’

When these words use ‘would…’ they use ‘to..’ not ‘…ing’:
I like swimming, but: I’d like t swim
I love seeing her, but: I’d love to see her
I hate working there, but: I’d hate to work there
I prefer getting up late, but: I’d prefer to get up late
I’d continue to, etc. etc…

Other typical words:

want to

expect to

agree to

hope to


Neither ‘to..’ nor ‘…ing’:
Modal verbs (can, will, must, should) are followed by the verb only:

I must go.
He could tell us.

There are other ‘semi-modals’ which work in the same way:

‘d rather   (I’d rather go tomorrow)
Let’s          (Let’s have a coffee)
‘d better   (You’d better see the doctor)

For more information on these words, click here.


Words that use ‘to…’ and ‘…ing’, with different meanings:

There is a difference between…

Stop TO do something = Stop something because you want to do sonething else.
Stop doING something = Finish
I’ve stopped smoking = I don’t smoke anymore.
I stopped to smoke = I was working and I decided to have a cigarette break.

Remember (or Regret) doING something = Remember having done something before.
Remember (or Regret) TO do something = Tell yourself that you will do something.
Where’s the bread? I remember buying it in the baker’s!
Remember to buy some bread.
I regret to tell you that you have not passed our application process
I regret telling him that- now everybody knows!

…Now, it’s your turn!

Choose whether to use ‘…ing’ or ‘to…’, or simply the base infinitive.
In some questions, more than one answer is correct- choose them all, and try not to look at the list above- I’m looking!

Gerunds / Infinitives



  • english
  • English Dictionary

Double click on any word on the page or type a word: