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Verbs which can use gerunds or infinitives

 

Gerund (verb-ing) or Infinitive (to + verb)?


I stopped working to answer the phone

Some verbs can be used with a gerund or an infinitive, 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.
I remembered to buy the milk.
= I remembered that I needed to do it, then I did it.

Forget
I'll never forget buying my first car
= I did it, and I won't forget it. Usually negative sentences.
I forgot to buy the milk.
= I didn't do it because I forgot.

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.
= this is what I wanted to achieve, but it was difficult.

Need
I need to clean the toilet.
= active, I 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

However, 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.


Usually, if the main verb in the sentence is continuous, we use the infinitive, not the gerund. For example:

I'm starting to learn English.

I 'm starting learning English. X (or less common)


Many English people 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.

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Practice verbs with ing/infinitive

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