Using Gerunds and Infinitives
Written by Martine Johnston, International Student Centre   

Gerunds and infinitives are verb forms that can take the place of a noun in a sentence. The following guidelines and lists will help you figure out whether a gerund or infinitive is needed.

Following a verb (gerund or infinitive)

Both gerunds and infinitives can replace a noun as the object of a verb. Whether you use a gerund or an infinitive depends on the main verb in the sentence. Consult the lists below to find out which form to use following which verbs.

I expect to have the report done by Friday. [INFINITIVE]
I anticipate having the report done by Friday. [GERUND]

Some common verbs followed by a gerund (note that phrasal verbs, marked here with *, always fall into this category):

acknowledge She acknowledged receiving assistance.
* accuse of He was accused of smuggling contraband goods.
admit They admitted falsifying the data.
advise The author advises undertaking further study.
anticipate He anticipates having trouble with his supervisor.
appreciate I appreciated having a chance to read your draft.
avoid He avoided answering my question.
complete I finally completed writing my thesis.
consider They will consider granting you money.
defer She deferred writing her report.
delay We delayed reporting the results until we were sure.
deny They denied copying the information.
discuss They discussed running the experiments again.
entail This review procedure entails repeating the test.
* look after He will look after mailing the tickets.
* insist on He insisted on proofreading the article again.
involve This procedure involves testing each sample twice.
justify My results justify taking drastic action.
mention The author mentions seeing this event.
* plan on They had planned on attending the conference.
postpone The committee has postponed writing the report.
recall I cannot recall getting those results before.
resent He resented spending so much time on the project.
recommend She recommends reading Marx.
resist The writer resists giving any easy answers.
risk She risks losing her viewing time.
sanction They will not sanction copying without permission.
suggest I suggest repeating the experiment.
* take care of He will take care of sending it to you.
tolerate She can't tolerate waiting for results.

Some common verbs followed by an infinitive:

   
afford We cannot afford to hesitate.
agree The professors agreed to disagree.
appear The results appear to support your theory.
arrange They had arranged to meet at noon.
beg I beg to differ with you.
care Would you care to respond?
claim She claims to have new data.
consent Will you consent to run for office?
decide When did he decide to withdraw?
demand I demand to see the results of the survey.
deserve She deserves to have a fair hearing.
expect The committee expects to decide by tomorrow.
fail The trial failed to confirm his hypothesis.
hesitate I hesitate to try the experiment again.
hope What do you hope to accomplish?
learn We have learned to proceed with caution.
manage How did she manage to find the solution?
neglect The author neglected to provide an index.
need Do we need to find new subjects?
offer We could offer to change the time of the meeting.
plan They had planned to attend the conference.
prepare He was not prepared to give a lecture.
pretend I do not pretend to know the answer.
promise They promise to demonstrate the new equipment.
refuse She refused to cooperate any longer.
seem Something seems to be wrong with your design.
struggle We struggled to understand her point of view.
swear He swears to tell the truth.
threaten The team threatened to stop their research.
volunteer Will you volunteer to lead the group?
wait We could not wait to hear the outcome.
want She did not want to go first.
wish Do you wish to participate?

Following a preposition (gerund only)

Gerunds can follow a preposition; infinitives cannot.

Can you touch your toes without bending your knees?

He was fined for driving over the speed limit.

She got the money by selling the car.

A corkscrew is a tool for taking corks out of bottles.

Note: Take care not to confuse the preposition "to" with an infinitive form, or with an auxiliary form such as have to, used to, going to

He went back to writing his paper. [PREPOSITION + GERUND]
I used to live in Mexico. [AUXILIARY + VERB]
I want to go home. [VERB + INFINITIVE]

Following an indirect object (infinitive only)

Some verbs are followed by a pronoun or noun referring to a person, and then an infinitive. Gerunds cannot be used in this position.

Some common verbs followed by an indirect object plus an infinitive:

ask I must ask you to reconsider your statement.
beg They begged her to stay for another term.
cause His findings caused him to investigate further.
challenge Wilkins challenged Watson to continue the research.
convince Can we convince them to fund our study?
encourage She encouraged him to look beyond the obvious.
expect They did not expect us to win an award.
forbid The author forbade me to change his wording.
force They cannot force her to reveal her sources.
hire Did the department hire him to teach the new course?
instruct I will instruct her to prepare a handout.
invite We invite you to attend the ceremony.
need They need her to show the slides.
order He ordered the group to leave the building.
persuade Can we persuade you to contribute again?
remind Please remind him to check the references.
require They will require you to submit an outline.
teach We should teach them to follow standard procedures.
tell Did she tell him to make three copies?
urge I urge you to read the instructions before you begin.
want I do not want you to have an accident.
warn Why didn't they warn me to turn down the heat?

Follow this link to HyperGrammar at the University of Ottawa for a review of the parts of speech.

Revised by Rebecca Smollett.

 

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