After certain verbs we use the -ing form, and after other verbs we use the to-infinitive. Sometimes we can use either form and there is a change in meaning. Occasionally we can use either form and there is no change in meaning.
So what’s the rule for whether we use the -ing form or the infinitive?
Sorry, there isn’t a rule. You have to learn which verbs go with which pattern.
•The verbs followed by -ing include enjoy, mind, stop and recommend.
I told him you really enjoy cooking.
Would you mind helping me?
It didn’t stop raining all day yesterday.
Daisy recommends trying Alfie’s tiramisu.
The negative is verb + not + -ing.
Imagine not having pizza! I eat it all the time.
Verbs usually followed by the -ing form: stop finish imagine suggest recommend avoid mind miss risk enjoy
•OK, what about the verbs followed by the to–infinitive?
These include decide, want, promise, plan and forget.
She decided to go with Elliot instead.
I wanted to visit Rome.
She promised to take me there.
I planned to go to some real Italian restaurants.
She didn’t forget to phone.
The negative is verb + not to infinitive.
They decided not to make pizza.
Here are some verbs that are usually followed by the to-infinitive: hope offer fail agree forget manage learn afford arrange ask expect would like decide plan promise want invite
•What about the verbs that can be followed by either form?
These include start,begin,continue andbother.
It started raining. or It started to rain.
Don’t bother waiting for me. or Don’t bother to wait for me.
The verbs like, love and hate can be followed by -ing or the infinitive when talking about repeated actions.
I love reading long novels. (British English or American English)
I love to read long novels. (American English)
But when we are talking about situations, we use the -ing form.
Paulo loves living by the beach in Rio.
Do you like working as a waitress?
So, ‘I love learning grammar rules‘ or ‘I love to learn grammar rules‘ are both OK?
Exactly. But there are some more verbs which can be followed by -ing or the infinitive, but the two options have different meanings, for example remember and stop.
I never remember to lock the door, and my mum gets really angry!
(remember + infinitive = remember something and then do it)
I never remember locking the door, but when I go back and check I always have.
(remember + -ing = remember something you did before)
She stopped smoking three years ago.
(stop + -ing = to not do something any more)
It was hot, so we stopped to have a drink. (we stopped walking)
(stop + infinitive = to not do something in order to do something else)
Let’s stop to have a rest now.
OK, later on you can try to remember all the patterns.
Taken from The British Council. You can visit their web for a video, some exercises on line and some worksheets to download in PDF format.
Some more exercises:
•Gerund and Infinitive – Exercise 1
•Gerund and Infinitive – Exercise 2
•Infinitive or Gerund after verbs
•Infinitive with or without to 1
•Infinitive with or without to 2
•Infinitive with or without to 3
•Gerunds and infinitives quiz
•Gerund – exercises
•Infinitive vs gerund – exercise 4
•Infinitive vs gerund – exercise 5
•Infinitive vs gerund – exercise 6
•Infinitive vs gerund – exercise 7
•Gerund and infinitive – quiz
•Infinitive and gerund 1
•Infinitive and gerund 2
•Gerunds vs infinitives – 1
•Gerunds vs infinitives – 2
•Gerunds vs infinitives – 3
•Gerunds and Infinitives – a
•Gerunds and Infinitives – b
•Gerunds and Infinitives – c
•Infinitive or gerund – exercises
And another explicative video: