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Bulats grammar - Gerunds versus Infinitives

Importance of Gerund and Infinities in English Grammar

Frequently, the main verb in a sentence is followed by another verb which is either an infinitive with ‘to’ (ex. hope to do) or a gerund (ex. avoid doing). The main verb determines which form is used. On the Bulats grammar questions there will generally be both choices amongst the answers, so you need to know which one is the right form. In addition, there are also some verbs that can be followed by either form, but the meaning is different.

Verb + infinitive

Here is a list of some of the verbs which are followed by the ‘to-infinitive’ (the verb ‘to do’ is added in order to help you memorize this list):

agree to do                 claim to do                  hope to do                   pretend to do             

aim to do                     decide to do                intend to do                 promise to do

can’t afford to do        expect to do                manage to do              refuse to do    

can’t wait to do           fail to do                      offer to do                   seem to do     

choose to do               happen to do               plan to do                    wish to do

Verb + gerund

The following list includes verbs that are followed by gerunds (‘doing’ is added to help you memorize this list).

admit doing                 deny doing                  imagine doing             miss doing      

avoid doing                 dislike doing                involve doing               postpone doing

can’t help doing          discuss doing               justify doing                practice doing

can’t stand doing        enjoy doing                 keep on doing             put off doing  

consider doing            finish doing                 mention doing resent doing               

delay doing                 give up doing              mind doing                  risk doing

Things to look out for on the Bulats Grammar

There are some verbs that can be followed by either the gerund or the infinitive but the meaning is different. Take a look at the examples below:

> Stop:

  • I’ve stopped smoking. (That means I no longer smoke.)
  • I stopped for a few minutes to rest. (That means I stopped what I was doing in order to rest.)

> Remember:

  • I still remember buying my first bicycle. (That means I have a particular memory of something that took place during my childhood.)
  • Remember to save your files before logging off. (With this meaning, we often use the imperative to remind someone to do something.)

> Forget:

  • I forgot to send her the message. (This is similar to ‘remember to do’.)
  • I’ll never forget meeting the President. (This is similar to ‘remember doing’.)

> Allow and permit:

  • We don’t allow/permit smoking. (When there is no direct object the gerund is used.)
  • We don’t allow/permit people to smoke. (When there is a direct object the infinitive is used.)

> Go on:

  • He went on talking for over an hour. (Here ‘go on’ means ‘continue’.)
  • He went on to talk about company sales. (Here ‘go on’ means ‘change to another subject’.)

> Advise

  • I advise repackaging the product. (When there is no direct object, then use the gerund.)
  • I advise you to repackage the product. (With a direct object we use the infinitive with ‘to’.)

> Suggest:

  • I suggest breaking off the meeting here. (When there is no direct object, then use the gerund.)
  • I suggest we break off the meeting here. (With a direct object we use the infinitive or what’s really the subjunctive form – see next example.)
  • I suggest that he find a later date. (Here for the verbs advise, suggest, recommend we can use this construction, but be careful with the 3rd person singular as there is NO ‘s’!!)

> Recommend:

  • I recommend finishing the report before the weekend. (See comments for ‘advise’ and ‘suggest’.)
  • I recommend that you finish the report before the weekend.

> Expect:

  • They expect us to find a solution to the problem.

> Want:

  • He wants her to respond to the email.

These verbs – expect, want, allow, help, enable, encourage invite, order, remind, tell, warn are often followed by a direct object and then an infinitive with ‘to’.                                           

Verb/Adjective + preposition + -ing form

Another related area which is often seen on the Bulats is the structure of a verb or adjective followed by a preposition which is then followed by a gerund (-ing form).

Examples:  

  • I’m thinking of applying for the Assistant to the Director positions.
  • She is interested in learning Italian because she works in the fashion industry.

A list is these verbs and adjectives + prepositions can be found on another grammar explanation sheet.

Common mistakes: verbs or adjectives that are followed by ‘to’ when it is acting as a preposition need to be followed by a gerund (NOT the infinitive) as mentioned above.

Example:

  • I am looking forward to hearing from you.
  • Pierre is accustomed to driving on the left as he has lived in England for 20 years.

For this last example, if we substitute the expression ‘be used to’ in the place of ‘be accustomed to’, a gerund also needs to come after the preposition ‘to’.

  • Pierre is used to driving on the left…

Don’t confuse this with ‘used to’ (without the verb ‘to be’) which means a habit from the past that no longer exists today and is not followed by a gerund.

Example:

  • Jane used to ride her bike to work, but when she got a new job she had to take the train.

 

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