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Infinitive or gerund?

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  • 1. INFINITIVE OR -ING FORMThere are certain words and verbs in English that are usuallyfollowed by an infinitive (with or without ‘to’) or a gerund form.Sometimes, we have the possibility of using both forms with achange of meaning, with little change or no change at all.Let’s see when we use the -ing form and when the infinitive (withor without ‘to’). -ING FORMS-ing forms may be used:(a) After certain verbs and phrases (see table below) She enjoysreading. The actress avoids being seen by the reporters. It’s no use complaining now. He could not help laughing.(b) After prepositions She is interested in reading. I look forward to seeing you soon.  I’m thinking of changing my job.  I’m thinking to change my job.(c) After worth and busy The book is well worth reading. She is busy doing her homework.(d) As the subject in a sentence Smoking is bad for you. Skiing is expensive. TO-INFINITIVESome uses of to-infinitives:(a) after certain verbs and phrases (see table below)(b) withwh-words: I don’t know what to do.(c) after adjectives: I am very glad to see you again.
  • 2. (d) to express purpose: He stopped for a minute to rest. (… in order to / so as to rest.)(e) to express result: He is too young to go to school. He is not old enough to go to school.(f) others: To err is human, to forgive divine. INFINITIVE WITHOUT ‘TO’Infinitive without ‘to’ is used after certain verbs and idioms (see table below) It’s raining: we’d better go inside. He’d rather try and fail than give up. He could do nothing but forgive her. I saw him open the window. They make him pay back the money. Either bare infinitive (infinitive without ‘to’) or to-infinitive can be used after help: Please help Mary (to) find her glasses. -ING or INFINITIVE?1 Some verbsmay be followed by either to-infinitive or -ing form, but themeanings will be different. (a) Remember, forget, regret I always remembermeeting you for the first time. Remember to go to the post office, won’t you? I forgotvisiting Jean. (You did visit her but you forget.) I forgot to visit Jean. (Perhaps I may visit her later.) I regretmaking that remark yesterday. I regret to tell you that your application is unsuccessful. The structure used to talk about things people didis the -ing form, and the one used to talk about things people are/were supposed to dois the infinitive. (b) Stop I really must stopsmoking. Every hour I stop work to smoke a cigarette. The -ing form says that an activity stops, and the infinitive form gives the reason for stopping.
  • 3. (c) Go on She went on talking about her illness for hours. She went on to talk about her other problems. The infinitive form is used for a change to a new activity, and the -ing form is used for continuation of an activity. (d) Try Please try to understand. (attempt) I tried sending her flowers but it didn’t have any effect. (experiment) He tried to open the champagne bottle but he did not succeed. (attempt) He tried opening the door several times after oiling it to see if it still creaked.(experiment) (e) See, watch, hear When I glanced out of the window, I saw Mary crossing the road. (you saw her while she was doing something) I watched him step off the pavement, cross the road, and disappear into the post-office. (you watched him do and finish all the actions)2 Some verbsmay be followed by either to-infinitive or -ing form, and the meanings are about the same. (a) Love, like, hate, prefer I love lying / to lie on my back and staring / to stare at the sky. I like swimming but I don’t like to swim on such a cold day. I like walking in the rain. (b) begin, start, continue, cease, can’t bear, be accustomed, propose, attempt, intend, plan The baby continued to cry / crying even after it had been given milk. I was beginning to get angry. (NOT: getting) (c) Allow, advise, forbid, permit Sorry, we don’t allow smoking in the lecture room. We don’t allow people to smoke in here. (e) Deserve, need/require These flowers need watering = These flowers need to be watered
  • 4. V + to-infinitive V + infinitive (without V + -ing ‘to’)I want to go there next week. I enjoy playing tennis. I may be there tomorrow. afford dare learn promise will, would acknowledge endure pardon agree decide manage propose shall, should admit enjoy postpone appear determine mean refuse can, could anticipate escape practise arrange expect neglect regret may, might appreciate excuse recall ask fail offer remember must avoid face recollect bear forget prepare seem had better celebrate fancy report beg happen pretend swear would rather consider finish resent care help trouble can do nothing but contemplate forgive resist choose hesitate try cannot but defer imagine risk consent hope want cannot help but delay include save wish cannot choose but deny involve suggest can but detest mention tolerate dislike mind understand doubt miss V + N + to-infinitive V + N + infinitive be any/some/no use/good V-ing… (without ‘to’) I allowed him to go. burst out crying/laughing I let her go. can’t help V-ing… can’t stand V-ing…advise help permit tempt Make feel like V-ing…allow instruct persuade trouble let go swimming/shoppingask intend prefer want see keep (on) doing somethingbear invite press warn watch, notice, observe prevent somebody (from) V-ing…beg leave recommend wish hear spend time/money doing somethingcause mean request feel waste time/money doing somethingcommand need remind smellcompel oblige teachencourage order tellexpect