What is the gerund versus the infinitive:

The GERUND versus the infinitive can be a challenging aspect of English grammar, for more practice, see our post on grammar structures HERE

A gerund verb refers to a verb that ends in …ing (going, writing, swimming) whereas an infinitive verb is to + verb (to go, to write, to swim)

However, you also need to understand the bare infinitive (go, write, swim)



To understand the gerund and infinitive, you need to remember 3 rules:


  1. Subject of the sentence eg. Swimming is good for your health.
  2. After a preposition eg. I am keen on running to get fit.
  3. After certain/some verbs eg. I fancy having a beer with my meal.


At C1 level there is one exception. When we use be just about + infinitive. I was just about to say that before you interrupted me.



  1. Purpose of another action eg. I do the shopping once a week to buy food.
  2. After an adjective eg. It is easy to pass the exam with this course.
  3. After certain/some verbs eg. He managed to get a 10 on the exam.


BE CAREFUL! At C1 level, there are exceptions to the rules. Study the examples:

In one case we use adjective + gerund. When we use be worth + gerund.

It isn’t worth having lots of money if you have no one to share it with.


For instance, the infinitive can be used as the subject of a sentence. 

In Britain to arrive late to a meeting is very bad manners.


Bare infinitive

  1. After most modal verbs eg. I should do more exercise.
  2. Objectives/to do list eg. 1. Do the washing up  2. Go shopping  3. Wash the car


Similar expressions with the full and the bare infinitive


  Verb + Object + Verb

I allow my children to watch TV every day.

I permit them to watch TV each day.

I let them watch TV daily.



Verb + Object + Verb

I obligate my children to tidy their room

I force them to tidy their room

I make them tidy their room


Gerund versus Infinitive verb list:

GERUND (use the gerund after these verbs)
Admit, Advise, Appreciate, Avoid, Can’t help, Can’t stand, Complete, Consider, Delay, Deny, Detest, Discuss, Despise, Enjoy, Escape, Excuse, Fancy, Feel like, Finish, Forbid, Imagine, Involve, Keep, Mention, Mind, Miss, Permit, Postpone, Practice, Quit, Recall, Recommend, Report, Resist, Resume, Risk, Spend (time), Suggest, Tolerate, Understand, Use, Waste (time)


INFINITIVE (use the infinitive after these words)
Able, Afford, Agree, Aim, Allow, Appear, Arrange, Ask, Attempt, Beg, Claim, Choose, Consent, Dare, Decide, Demand, Deserve, Encourage, Expect, Fail, Get, Happen, Help, Hesitate, Hope, Hurry, Learn, Long, Manage, Need, Offer, Plan, Pleased, Prepare, Pretend, Promise, Propose, Refuse, Seem, Strive, Swear, Take (time), Tend, Threaten, Use, Wait, Want, Wish, Would like


NO CHANGE IN MEANING: EITHER (use either the gerund or infinitive)
Begin, Continue, Dislike, Like, love, Start, Intend, prefer


CHANGE IN MEANING: EITHER (use either the gerund or the infinitive)
Consider, Forget, Imagine, Mean, Remember, Remind, Regret, Try, Stop, Teach, Try


Change in meaning between gerund and infinitive:

Like (no change)              I like swimming                             I like to swim

Remember (change)      I didn’t remember doing it         I didn’t remember to do it

Try (change)                    I tried calling you.                           I tried to call you, but I couldn’t.

Gerund form normally means that the action was completed, the infinitive not completed.



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