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Rules For Using Gerunds and Infinitives

If you want to speak correct and natural English, you should know when to use gerunds, and when to use infinitives. One of the difficulties of the English language is to know whether to use a gerund  (ex: doing) or an infinitive (ex: to do). In this article we will look at rules for using gerunds and infinitives or when to use gerunds and when to use infinitives, but initially we have to know what are gerunds and what are infinitives.

Rules For Using Gerunds and Infinitives
Rules For Using Gerunds and Infinitives

Gerunds and Infinitives 

The “-ing” form of a verb which works as a noun is known as a gerund.
Indeed a gerund is a noun made from a verb. To make a gerund, you add “-ing” to the verb.
You can use a gerund as the subject, the complement, or the object of a sentence. Click here to know about the subject, the complement and object of a sentence.

  • Reading helps you learn English. (Subject of sentence)
  • My favorite hobby is reading. (Complement of sentence)
  • I enjoy reading. (Object of sentence)

The word “gerund” actually comes from the Latin word gerere, which means “do”. You could say this actually makes sense: the gerund describes an action, something you do.

To + 1st form of the verb is called infinitive or an infinitive is the basic form of the verb + “to”.
The word “infinitive” comes from the Latin word infinitus. In means- (not) and finitus means (limited).

  • Shazia danced. (The action is limited to Shazia)
  • To dance is easy. (The action is not limited to any subject or to any time)

More examples:

  • I want to swim.
  • They asked us to leave.
  • The goal is to win.

Using gerunds and infinitives

(A) Using gerund
1. Gerunds are often used when actions are real or completed activities or experiences.

  • I like eating ice-cream. ( This is an actual action you are doing everyday)
  • He stopped smoking. (This is a completed action or experience)

More examples:

  • I enjoy playing.
  • She practices playing the piano all the time.
  • Ali finished fixing the pipe.
  • The job involves dealing with animals.
  • We started working on the project yesterday.

2. Gerunds are used after verbs that express likes/ dislikes. Such as: (Like, love, enjoy, dislike and hate)

  • I like reading books, but I hate writing.

3. Gerunds are used after verbs such as:
(Admit, advise, allow, anticipate, avoid, appreciate, complete, consider, delay, deny, fancy, finish, go, imagine, involve, keep, mention, mind, miss, permit, postpone, practice, reject, resist, risk, suggest, waste).

  • They admitted losing the match.
  • They don’t permit smoking here.
  • Don’t waste my time postponing the task.

4. Use gerunds after preposition in a sentence.
(Aim at, keep on, interested, in, good at, instead of, after)

  • We decided to buy a house instead of by buying a new car.

5. Use gerunds after some expressions such as:
(It’s not use…it’s not good… He can’t help… I don’t mind)

  • She doesn’t mind cleaning the house.
  • It’s not good telling lie to parents.

(B) Using Infinitives

1. We often Infinitives  when actions are unreal, general, or future. Or using an infinitive suggests that you are talking about potential or possible activities or experiences.

  • I like to eat ice-cream (may be you are on a diet and you don’t usually eat ice-cream or you are talking about potential action)

More examples:

  • I refused to go.
  • You seem to be disappointed.
  • I want to eat.
  • We need to get up early.

2. Often we use the infinitive for actions that follow the action of the main verb.

  • I decided to visit my uncle. (Visiting my uncle was an action of my decision)
  • I want to go out. (What I want now to go out (after or future))

3. Use infinitives that generally refer to a future event.
(Afford, agree, aim, arrange, attempt, choose, consent, decide, deserve, expect, demand, fail, happen, help, hope, intend, Manage, need, offer, plan, pretend, process, promise, refuse, seem, swear, threaten, want, would love, would like etc).

  • I would like to be an anchor in the function.
  • They refused to take the test.
  • We decided to migrate to Pakistan.

4. Use infinitive after adjectives.
(Be determined, be disappointed, be glad, be happy, be pleased..)

  • I am pleased to see you here.
  • They are happy to have you as their teacher.

Note: Some certain verbs can come after gerund or infinitive.
(Begin, Dread, Forget, keep, need, regret, remember, Start, Stop and try)

  • They started to play.
  • They started playing.

Using gerunds and infinitives in a proper way is very important if you want to speak natural English. Hope the rules mentioned above will help you and you will use gerunds and infinitives accurately  in your speaking so on.

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Arsala Kakar December 11, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Thank you so much for the helpful resources.
These helped me a lot. You are very kind

BISMO December 11, 2018 at 4:48 pm

You are welcome Arsala Kakar, hope it was helpful.

heyran December 24, 2018 at 12:56 pm

i teach English and i want to prepare a workbook for my students

John January 4, 2024 at 4:37 am

Take it easy. If you live 2 months in the USA, you’ll realize that you don’t need to follow these complicated rules.


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