Read about using verb patterns where the meaning changes depending on whether the verb is a gerund or an infinitive. Then, when you are ready, try these verb patterns practice exercises.

Verb patterns with stop and remember

I stopped working to answer the phone.Some verbs can be used with a gerund (verb-ing) or an infinitive (to + verb), but the meaning changes. For example:

I stopped working to answer the phone.

Stop

I stopped working.
(I was working, then I stopped)

I stopped to answer the phone.
(this is the reason I stopped)

Remember

I'm sure I bought the milk - I remember buying it!
(I did it, and now I remember it - buy first, remember after!)

Don't worry - I remembered to buy the milk.
(I thought of it, then I did it - remember first, buy after!)

 

Upper-intermediate and advanced examples

There a several other (more advanced) examples of verbs which change meaning, depending on whether a gerund or an infinitive comes after.

Forget

I'll never forget buying my first car
(I did it, and I won't forget it - buy first, (not) forget after)

I forgot to buy the milk.
(I didn't do it because I forgot - forget first, buy after)

Try

I couldn't sleep, so I tried drinking warm milk.
(this was one possible way to achieve what I wanted)

I tried to sleep, but the music was too loud.
(this is what I wanted to achieve, but it was difficult, and maybe I didn't succeed)

Need

He needs to clean the toilet.
(active, he should do it)

The toilet needs cleaning.
(passive, someone should do it - it should be done)

Go on

I went on working all night.
(I continued this)

I was a teacher, but I went on to work as a journalist.
(this is what I did next)

Mean

I mean to learn Japanese one day.
(I plan to do this)

Learning Japanese means learning to write kanji.
(it involves this)

 

Some verbs can be used with a gerund or an infinitive and the meaning is the same. For example:

I started to watch/watching TV.

I began to watch/watching TV

I continued to watch/watching TV.

When the meaning is the same, if the main verb in the sentence is continuous, we usually use the infinitive, not the gerund. For example:

I'm starting to learn English.✓

I'm starting learning English. (less common)

 

Many English speakers use like with both gerunds and infinitives, without much change in meaning. However, if you want to show that you enjoy something, we say like + gerund and if you want to say that you think it's a good idea, we say like + to + infinitive.

I like going on holiday.

I like to go to the dentist every 6 months.


Now, try these practice exercises to test yourself on these verb patterns.