Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

8.3: Gerunds and Infinitives

  • Page ID
    36322
  • Gerunds

    Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 10.51.57 PM.png

    A gerund is a form of a verb that is used as a noun. All gerunds end in -ing.

    Since gerunds function as nouns, they occupy places in a sentence that a noun would, such as the subject, direct object, and object of a preposition. You can use a gerund in the following ways:

    1. As a subject
      Example: Traveling is Cynthia's favorite pastime.
    2. As a direct object
      Example: I enjoy jogging.
    3. As an object of a proposition
      Example: The librarian scolded me for laughing.

    Often verbs are followed by gerunds. Examine the following table for examples.

    Table of Gerunds and Verbs

    Gerund Verb Followed by a Gerund

    moving

    Denise considered moving to Paris.

    cleaning

    I hate cleaning the bathroom.

    winning

    Nate imagines winning an Oscar one day.

    worrying

    Mom says she has stopped worrying.

    taking

    She admitted taking the pumpkin.

    Infinitives

    Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 10.53.59 PM.png

    An infinitive is a form of a verb that includes the word to and acts as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

    to + verb = infinitive

    Examples of infinitives include:

    • to move,
    • to sleep,
    • to look,
    • to throw,
    • to read
    • to sneeze

    Often verbs are followed by infinitives.

    Table of Infinitives and Verbs

    Infinitive Verb Followed by Infinitive

    to help

    Jessica offered to help her move.

    to arrive

    Mick expects to arrive early.

    to win

    Sunita wants to win the writing contest.

    to close

    He forgot to close the curtains.

    to eat

    She likes to eat late.

    You may wonder which verbs can be followed by gerunds and which verbs can be followed by infinitives. With the following verbs, you can use either a gerund or an infinitive.

    Table of Infinitives and Gerunds Verbs

    Base Form of Verb Sentences with Verbs Followed by Gerunds and Infinitives

    continue

    1. He continued listening to the news.
    2. He continued to listen to the news.

    like

    1. I liked leaving messages.
    2. I liked to leave messages.

    prefer

    1. I prefer baking.
    2. I prefer to bake.

    start

    1. I will start recycling immediately.
    2. I will start to recycle immediately.

    begin

    1. John began crying.
    2. John began to cry.

    love

    1. Josh loves diving.
    2. Josh loves to dive.

    hate

    1. Marie hated talking on the phone.
    2. Marie hated to talk on the phone.

    try

    1. Mikhail will try climbing the tree.
    2. Mikhail will try to climb the tree.

    forget

    1. Wendell forgot paying the bills.
    2. Wendell forgot to pay the bills.

    Exercise: Infinitives and Gerunds

    Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 10.56.27 PM.png

    Complete the following sentences by choosing the correct infinitive or gerund:

    1. I meant ________ (to kiss, kissing) my kids before they left for school.
    2. The children hoped (to go, going) to a restaurant for dinner.
    3. Do you intend ________ (to eat, eating) the entire pie?
    4. Crystal postponed ________ (to get dressed, getting dressed) for the party.
    5. When we finish ________ (to play, playing) this game, we will go home.

    Key Takeaways

    Verb Tenses

    • Verb tenses tell the reader when the action takes place.
    • Actions could be in the past, present, or future.
    • There are six main verb tenses in English: simple present, simple past, simple future, present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect.
    • Verbs in English can have active forms and passive forms.
    • Verbs can be followed by either gerunds or infinitives.other pages.
    • Was this article helpful?