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Gerunds and Infinitives

Perfect English Grammar

It can be a little difficult to know when to use gerunds and infinitives.
(See all the gerund and infinitive exercises here)

Click here to download this explanation as a pdf.

Here's my video on the subject:

We use gerunds (verb + ing):

  • After certain verbs - I enjoy singing
  • After prepositions - I drank a cup of coffee before leaving
  • As the subject or object of a sentence - Swimming is good exercise

We use 'to' + infinitive:

  • After certain verbs - We decided to leave
  • After many adjectives - It's difficult to get up early
  • To show purpose - I came to London to study English

We use the bare infinitive (the infinitive without 'to'):

  • After modal verbs - I can meet you at six o'clock
  • After 'let', 'make' and (sometimes) 'help' - The teacher let us leave early
  • After some verbs of perception (see, watch, hear, notice, feel, sense) - I watched her walk away
  • After expressions with 'why' - why go out the night before an exam?

Verbs that take the gerund or 'to + infinitive' with examples and exercises:

See all the gerund and infinitive exercises here.