English Gerunds and Infinitives


This module examines the differences between gerunds (walking, playing, eating, etc.) and infinitives (to walk, to play, to eat, etc.) and when to use each form.

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Some verbs require the use of the preposition “to”, when followed by another verb. The second very will be in the infinitive.

hate to bother you. (Not: I hate bother you)
If you decide to apply for the job, then give me a call. (Not: If you decide apply, ….)
She refuses to answer the question. (Not: She refuses answer the question).

Other verbs that are commonly followed by “to + infinitive verb” are: choose (to), promise (to), intend (to), hope (to), expect (to), plan (to), seem (to),

Note: Using any of these words does not automatically require the use of “to + infinitive verb”. We do not use “to” when there is no other verb in the sentence.

I hate broccoli. (Not: I hate to broccoli.)
She promised me. (Not: She promised to me.)
He expected them. (Not: He expected to them.)


A gerund is the -ing form of a verb used as a noun.

Verbs that are commonly followed by a gerund are: detest, enjoy, avoid, miss, keep, remember, keep, consider, suggest.

I hate being interrupted. (Not: I hate to be interrupted.)
I enjoy gardening. (Not: I enjoy to garden.)  “gardening” could also be viewed as a noun.
She denies calling him that night. (Not: She denies to call him that night.)
I am considering leaving my current job. (Not: I consider to leave.)
I keep thinking it’s Wednesday. (Not: I keep to think…)
I don’t remember leaving my wallet in my car. (Not: I don’t remember to leave…)

Note: Not every verb ending with -ing is a gerund.

I enjoy baking. (Gerund)
I am baking. (Present participle, not gerund!)

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.