VERB+GERUND or VERB+INFINITIVE? English language grammar explanation - Intermediate level (B1-B2)

In English grammar, there are two types of verb forms that can follow a main verb: gerunds and infinitives. Understanding when to use each form can be confusing, but it's important for effective communication in English.


A gerund is a verb that ends in "-ing" and functions as a noun in a sentence. For example, "Swimming is my favorite hobby." In this sentence, "swimming" is the gerund, which acts as the subject of the sentence.


An infinitive is the base form of a verb, often preceded by the word "to." For example, "I want to eat pizza for dinner." In this sentence, "to eat" is the infinitive, which functions as the object of the verb "want."


So when do we use each form? Here are some guidelines:


Use a gerund when the verb acts as the subject of the sentence.

For example:

Swimming is a great way to exercise.

Singing is her passion.

In these sentences, "swimming" and "singing" are both gerunds because they are acting as the subject of the sentence.


Use an infinitive when the verb functions as the object of the main verb.

For example:

I want to learn how to play guitar.

She loves to read books.

In these sentences, "to learn" and "to read" are both infinitives because they function as the object of the verbs "want" and "loves," respectively.


Some verbs can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive, but the meaning can change.

For example:

I like swimming. (gerund)

I like to swim. (infinitive)

In these sentences, both "swimming" and "to swim" express the same idea, but the gerund form emphasizes the activity itself, while the infinitive form emphasizes the speaker's desire to do the activity.


Certain verbs are always followed by a gerund or an infinitive.

For example:

She avoided answering the question. (gerund)

He decided to take a break. (infinitive)

In these sentences, "avoided" and "decided" are both verbs that are always followed by a gerund or an infinitive, respectively.


Some verbs can be followed by both a gerund and an infinitive, but the meaning changes depending on which form is used.

For example:

I remember seeing that movie. (gerund)

I remember to buy milk. (infinitive)

In the first sentence, "seeing" is a gerund that expresses a past action that the speaker remembers. In the second sentence, "to buy" is an infinitive that expresses a future action that the speaker plans to remember.


Overall, using gerunds and infinitives correctly can take some practice, but understanding the basic guidelines can make it easier. Pay attention to the function of the verb in the sentence, and consider the meaning you want to convey when choosing between the two forms.

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English Grammar graphic: Verbs + gerund or verbs + infinitive by Language Unlimited

Exercises: Choose the correct answer


1. I hate (to wake up / waking up) early in the morning.

2. She enjoys (to play / playing) basketball with her friends.

3. He forgot (to lock / locking) the door before leaving the house.

4. They decided (to go / going) to the beach for the weekend.

5. My dad offered (to help / helping) me with my homework.

6. She can't stand (to be / being) in crowded places.

7. We started (to watch / watching) the movie at 9 pm.

8. He suggested (to meet / meeting) at the coffee shop down the street.

9. I tried (to study / studying) for the exam, but I kept getting distracted.

10. She remembered (to buy / buying) milk on the way home from work.

11. They agreed (to go / going) to the concert together.

12. I want (to learn / learning) how to speak Spanish fluently.

13. He promised (to call / calling) me back later in the day.

14. She admitted (to eat / eating) the last piece of cake.

15. We discussed (to take / taking) a vacation together next year.

16. They practiced (to dance / dancing) for hours before the competition.

17. I prefer (to read / reading) books rather than watching TV.

18. She suggested (to try / trying) the new restaurant in town.

19. He stopped (to smoke / smoking) cigarettes a year ago.

20. They plan (to visit / visiting) Europe next summer.

21. I recommend (to see / seeing) the new art exhibit at the museum.

22. She forgot (to pick up / picking up) her dry cleaning from the store.

23. We avoided (to talk / talking) about politics at the dinner table.

24. He needs (to study / studying) for the test tomorrow.

25. She enjoys (to listen / listening) to classical music while studying.

26. They started (to work / working) on the project last week.

27. I stopped (to check / checking) my phone every five minutes.

28. She suggested (to take / taking) a yoga class to relieve stress.

29. He admitted (to forget / forgetting) to bring his wallet to the restaurant.

30. They want (to go / going) on a road trip across the country this summer.



1. waking up   2. playing   3. to lock  4. to go  5. to help 6. being  7. watching  8. meeting 9. to study 10. buying  11. to go  12. to learn  13. to call  14. eating  15. taking  16. dancing 17. reading 18. trying  19. smoking  20. to visit  21. seeing 22. to pick up 23. talking 24. to study  25. listening  26. working 27. checking  28. taking  29. forgetting  30. to go



Crowded: Pieno di gente (Italian); Lleno de gente (Spanish)

Fluently: Fluentemente (Italian); Con fluidez (Spanish)

Exhibit: Mostra (Italian); Exhibición (Spanish)

Dry cleaning: Lavaggio a secco (Italian); Lavado en seco (Spanish)

Yoga class: Lezione di yoga (Italian); Clase de yoga (Spanish)

Road trip: Viaggio on the strada (Italian); Viaje por carretera (Spanish)

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