Study Gerunds and Infinitives Online with These Exercises
ESL Level: Intermediate - Advanced
Language Focus: Verbs followed by gerunds or infinitives
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Introduction to Verbs followed by Gerunds or Infinitives
Usually the object of a verb is a noun. For example, I like pizza. 'Pizza' here is a noun (a thing).
However, sometimes, the object of a verb is another action, e.g. I like eating pizza. When a verb is followed by another action (a verb), the action word is put into a gerund (eating) or infinitive form (to eat).
For some verbs, we can use either a gerund or an infinitive and the meaning will not change. These verbs are the following.
So, you can say "I hate studying" or "I hate to study." Both are acceptable. That's easy. But the problem is that many verbs must be followed by a gerund or an infinitive. If you use the wrong one, you've made a mistake.
Common Verbs Followed by Gerunds
Here are some common verbs followed by gerunds (e.g. He admitted taking the money.)
- give up
- keep on
...and more! Of course there are thousands of verbs in English. You will have to learn the combinations through practice, such as by doing the exercises below.
Common Verbs Followed by Infinitives
An infinitive is 'to + verb base form'. For example, He agreed to lower the price.
- be able
(and more, yes.) Again, you'll need to practice.
Let me give you some other advice that might be helpful.
General Rules - Gerunds and Infinitives
1) Gerunds as Subjects
When an action is the subject of a sentence, is it in gerund form.
- Reading is an important skill. (Subject = Reading )
Subjects in English are nouns, so the word 'study' is nominalized (made into a noun) by changing it into a gerund. Think of a gerund as a verb in noun form.
2) Gerunds Follow Prepositions
Prepositions are short words like 'in/on/at/to/about' etc. We used gerunds after prepositions.
- I am interested in going to the store.
- I am not afraid of going outside.
Think about it. It would be very strange to use 'to' after a preposition because 'to' can also be a preposition. For example, look at these two sentences:
- I am addicted to eating chocolate. (Correct)
- I am addicted to to eat chocolate. (Wrong, we don't use an infinitive after a preposition -- it could result in two prepositions (to to) after each other). That would be crazy.
You can jump to the exercises on prepositions here.
3) Infinitives Follow Adjectives and Adverbs
Although there are some exceptions, adjectives that do not have a fixed preposition combination (e.g. interested in, talk about) are followed by an infinitive.
- I am pleased to see you. (pleased = adjective)
- Be certain to close the door. (certain = adjective)
- I am old enough to go. (enough = adverb)
4) Verb + Object + Infinitive
If a verb is followed by a noun, we often use an infinitive after it and not a gerund.
- I asked him to come.
- I told my son to calm down.
- I expected him to be on time.
You can jump to the exercise on this topic here.
5) An Infinitive Can Mean 'In Order to'
When we talk about the purpose of an action, we can use an infinitive. In this case, the infinitive has the meaning of 'in order to'.
- I study (in order) to improve.
- I bought the house to make her happy.
- I exercise to lose weight.
An infinitive here explains the purpose of the action. We cannot use a gerund in the same way.
Verbs with Different Meaning if Followed by a Gerund or an Infinitive
The meaning of the following verbs change depending on whether a gerund or an infinitive follows it. I will explain each briefly.
1) I remembered to go v.s. I remembered going
To remember + infinitive is to remember to do a responsibility or task that you have to do. For example, 'Please remember to lock the door'.
To remember + gerund is to have a memory of an action. For example, "John remembers breaking his arm. / He remembers kissing Lisa." In these sentences, John has a memory in his head of an action.
2) I forgot to go vs. I forgot going
The differences are the same as remember.
To forget + infinitive is to forget to do a responsibility or task that you have to do. For example, 'He forgot to lock the door'.
To forget + gerund is to not have a memory of an action. For example, "John will never forget breaking his arm. / He was drunk, so he forgot kissing Lisa." In these sentences, John does not have a memory in his head of an action.
3) I regret to tell you vs. I regret telling you
We use a gerund with regret when we regret an action. For example: I regret buying it. I regret not getting insurance.
However, when we write letters or speak formally, we often use the expression "I regret to inform/tell you" with an infinitive. This is a set expression that means "I am sorry to say that...." For example.
I regret to inform you that your application has been denied.
I regret to say that I will be leaving the company.
Otherwise, we use a gerund with regret.
4) to try to do something vs. to
to try + infinitive is to make an effort to do something. For example, 'I'm trying to find a job'. This is usually how we use try.
to try + gerund is used when we have a problem and we try many different things to solve it. For example:
John wanted to get a job. He tried asking to his friends for one, looking in the newspaper, and handing out his resume. He even tried going to companies and talking to the manager. Nothing worked.
In this story, the John has tried many ways to solve his problem. In this case, we use a gerund.
5) to stop smoking vs. to stop to smoke
to stop + infinitive is used to describe the purpose. Again, this is the same as in order to. For example:
John was driving home. John stopped to buy a chocolate bar.
Why did he stop? In order to buy a chocolate bar. This was the purpose.
to stop + gerund describes the action that was stopped. For example:
John stopped driving.
I want to stop smoking.
The computer stopped working.
This simply describes the action that ended.
Sometimes you can combine these sentences and use a gerund and infinitive. For example: John stopped driving to buy a chocolate bar. Here the the action that he stopped was driving (gerund) and the purpose of stopping was to buy a chocolate bar (infinitive).
That's enough explanation. If you want to do an exercise that focuses on the difference in meanings, try this exercise here.
There are many exercises below for you to study. Please let me know if you find a mistake or have a question.
- Matthew Barton / Creator of Englishcurrent.com
Gerunds & Infinitives: Tales of Bernardo for Beginner Students
- My friend Bernardo liked McDonald's hamburgers. But he had a problem. He was gaining weight. He decided on a diet. He stopped fast food and started more fruit and vegetables. After a month, he had lost a few pounds. But he wanted more. I suggested a gym. Bernardo disliked , but he agreed it. Now he exercises every day and he looks better. He's looking forward to more weight.
- Teresa's boyfriend Bernardo is gaining weight. She wanted him fast food. He agreed eating healthily. A few weeks passed. Teresa expected Bernardo weight, but nothing changed. She noticed that sometimes he would smell like hamburgers. She started that he had broken his promise well.
- One day, she followed him home from work. She saw him pass by McDonalds, but then he stopped . He hesitated in, but he finally did. After a few minutes, she decided him in. She caught him a Big Mac. She attempted it from him, but she couldn't manage it out of his greasy hands. He tried her away, but he accidentally hit her in the face. Naturally, she got angry. He said that he didn't mean her, but she started anyway. They both got kicked out of the restaurant. Now they refuse to each other.
- One month ago, my friend Bernardo decided some weight. He stopped chocolate, gave up beer, and he refused anything high in fat. This was difficult for him because he enjoyed chocolate and he preferred beer to Diet Coke! Luckily, his girlfriend agreed him. She promised him a lot of healthy food, and she did. But after two months, he only managed three pounds. Now, his girlfriend has suggested a gym. Bernardo hates, but he will try it.
Verbs Followed by Gerunds and Infinitives with Different Meanings
- is one of Bernardo's hobbies. He began when he was a young child. He remembers new places every Christmas and summer holiday. In particular, he'll never forget Hawaii in 2010. On the day he and his family were going to depart, there was a big snowstorm. His father tried them to the airport, but the roads were icy. The car kept . In the airport parking lot, his father actually hit another car. He tried , but he couldn't. Finally, when they got inside the airport, Bernardo realized that he had forgotten clothes. He remembered his passport at least.
- So after arriving in Honolulu, his family had to stop some clothes for him. In the end, he had a great trip. He hopes that he never stops .
Gerunds and Infinitives in Questions
- What habit do you have that you'd like to stop ?
- Have you started anything new recently?
- Have you decided anything special this weekend?
- What are you looking forward to this week?
- Are you going to stop something on the way home today?
- Have you regretted anything recently?
- What in life do you prefer to sleeping?
- What are the most common tasks that people forget ?
- Do you remember born? What was your first memory?
- Are you used to English online?
- What is something that you have recently avoided ?
- What didn't your parents allow you ?
- Is your hometown worth ?
- Would you agree more taxes if it meant that university education would be free?
- What chore do you detest the most?
- When is someone old enough married?
- What age is too soon children?
- Did you forget anything last weekend?
- When do you expect a job?
- Are you interested to a ballet performance?
- If you saw an accident at the side of the road, would you keep ?
- What is something you miss ?
Gerunds & Infinitives with Prepositions
Add the appropriate preposition and verb form.
- He's not capable (work) alone.
- She's interested (apply) for the job
- He's not accustomed (live) in a cold climate.
- He didn't have a reason (be) late.
- She insisted (pay) the bill.
- John is crazy (cook).
- I'm thinking (get) a pet dog.
- Visitors are prohibited (smoke) in the building.
- The company succeeded (make) a profit.
- He's always complaining (have) to do the dishes.
If you like studying prepositions, try our exercises here.
Gerunds & Infinitives with Verb Objects
- He asked (me/come) to his office.
- They allowed (their children/eat) cake.
- The volume caused (my ears/hurt) .
- My teacher told (me/study) harder
- I warned (him/not/touch) the dog.
- We need (people/help) us.
- The government encourages (people/recycle)
- The judge ordered (my neighbour/pay) a fine.
Writing Questions with Verbs Followed by Gerunds or Infinitives
Use the below words to form a complete sentence. For example, "what/you/want/do?" would be "What do you want to do?". Note that you must add a question mark.
- What/you/regret/do? =
- What/you/look forward to/do/this weekend? =
- What/miss/eat/from/your/home country? =
- What/you/detest/see? =
- What/you/can't wait/do? =
- What/you/would/like/avoid/do/tonight? =
- BE/you/used to/use/this/webpage? =