English Gerunds and Infinitives

Overview

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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Infinitives

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

Examples:
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.

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

Gerunds

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.

Examples:
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
Writing:
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.
Reading:
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
Listening:
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.