So tell me Kiwiprofesor, what’s a Gerund… what’s an Infinitive…and when should I use them? I’m a bit confused, eh
Those are very good questions, I’m glad you asked. OK, here goes….• Oops, first though, I need to remind you about Nouns… • You remember what Nouns are, right?
Ummm, yep I think so…• Nouns are People, Places, Things, Ideas, AND Animals like me, right?
Yep, you’re dead right. Congratulations, you’re a Noun! • …so what do Nouns have to do with your question?.... • Well Gerunds and Infinitives are Nouns made from Verbs.• They can be the subject of the sentence – “Smoking is bad for you”• They can follow adjectives – “Your place is easy to find” …• other verbs – “I enjoy listening to Reggae music”…• also Gerunds follow prepositions – “I’m interested in learning about Australia.”
To make a Gerund, you just add –ing to the verb buying, fishing, running, watching, telling, etc. E.g. “I swim like a fish”- verb ……. “I love swimming” – gerund=noun The word "gerund" actually comes from the Latin word gerere, which means "do".You could say this actually makes sense: the gerund describes an action, a real experience, or something you do.Gerunds are often used when actions are real or completed (past).
Here are some examples of Gerunds; (Note how the main underlined verb relates to real or completed actions.)She stopped smoking.I finished doing my homework.They keep on fighting.We discussed moving to Brisbane.You recommended waiting until tomorrow.He recalled falling asleep on the couch.She practices playing those drums all the time.John completed fixing the car.The job involves dealing with animals.Brian mentioned staying up late.They suggested not keeping the luggage.We started working on this yesterday.
To make an Infinitive, you just put “to” before the base of the verb. to buy, to fish, to run, to watch, to tell, etc. E.g. “I swim like a fish”- verb ……. “I love to swim” – infinitive=noun The word "infinitive" comes form the Latin word infinitus, from in- (not) and finitus (finished, limited).You could say this actually makes sense: the infinitive describes an action, but unlike a regular verb, it is not limited in any way. The regular verb is limited to the tense and subject. For example, in the sentence"Diana danced" the action is limited to Diana and to the past. However, the infinitive is unlimited. In the sentence "To dance is easy", the action is not limited to any subject or to any time. Infinitives are often used when actions are unreal, general, or future. Are you still with me?
…and here are some examples of Infinitives; (Note how the main underlined verb relates to unreal, general, or future actions.)Kate agreed to come.I hope to see you soon.We plan to finish this shortly.They decided to return home.She promised to stop smoking.We agreed never to talk about it again.He offered to sell the house.I refuse to pay!You seem to be disappointed.She asked him not to leave.I want to drink.They need to get up early.
Ah OK, so Gerund can be past and Infinitive, future. • …but that doesn’t tell me exactly which one I should use, and when. That’s what I’m really confused about… • and why I’m tilting my head like this.I mean…I often find myself using the Infinitive, for example “to speak English is noteasy”, but I heard someone say “Speaking English is not easy”, and to me it sounded more natural. …sometimes people give me funny looks too.
Yes, you are right, it is confusing. There are some rules, like;A: These verbs can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive:Attempt, begin, continue, like, hate, love, neglect, prefer, regret, stand, start, etc.They began dancing and singing. She loves to sing and dance.We like to cook dinner but hate to clean the apartment. I like cooking but hate cleaning.B: These verbs must be followed by a gerund:appreciate, avoid, consider, discuss, dislike, enjoy, forgive, imagine, keep, miss, quit, risk, etc.Do you dislike doing homework or just avoid handing it in?She misses being with her family.C: These verbs must be followed by an infinitive:Agree, ask, choose, decide, encourage, expect, get, hope, intend, learn, plan, seem, tell,, etc.He asked her to marry him, and she decided to accept.I was encouraged to work hard at school and planned to attend university.
But you’re still in the dark about the difference between Gerunds and Infinitives, aren’t you…check this out - The basic difference between gerunds and infinitives is the following: Using a gerund suggests that you are referring to real activities or experiences. Using an infinitive suggests that you are talking about potential or possible activities or experiences.So lets say you eat ice cream every day. This is an actual action you are doing. Then you could say: "I likeeating ice cream".On the other hand, if you are on a diet, and you dont usually eat ice cream, then you are talking about apotential action. You could say: "I like to eat ice cream."When used before the main verb, gerunds tend to soundmore like natural English, AND are more common.For example, the sentence "Playing tennis is a lot of fun" sounds more naturalthan "To play tennis is a lot of fun". The later sentence sounds more theoretical.
Oops!, one other thing… Remember how some Verbs can take gerunds or infinitives… well, sometimes that can change the meaning. For instance;“Don’t forget to ask about my quote” –Infinitive when action in future. “You forget asking about my quote?” – Gerund when action in past. Ah, ok…I get it. But man!, it’s still confusing. Can we do some examples?
Yep, but One more thing…a rule that’s always true… Gerunds after Prepositions This is a good rule. It has no exceptions!If we want to use a verb after a preposition, it must be a gerund. It isimpossible to use an infinitive after a preposition. So for example, we say:I will call you after arriving at the office.Please have a drink before leaving.I am looking forward to meeting you.Do you object to working late?Tara always dreams about going on holiday.Notice that you could replace all the above gerunds with "real" nouns:I will call you after my arrival at the office.Please have a drink before your departure.I am looking forward to our meeting.Do you object to this overtime?Tara always dreams about holidays.
So there you have it…The best way to learn how to use them is practice. Practice makes perfect remember. So, let’s go and practice!… But first, I’m going to give you a wee test, are you ready? Yep, for sure…just let me do my hair first ok…