Gerunds and Infinitives Overview

Gerunds and Infinitives - Lesson #1

Gerunds and infinitives are different ways to use verbs. We can use them in a few different ways.

First, we need to know how to make gerunds and infinitives.

Infinitive = to + verb
  • to go
  • to eat
  • to sleep
  • to persuade
  • to celebrate
Gerund = verb + -ing
  • going
  • eating
  • sleeping
  • persuading
  • celebrating
Now, let's look at the basic ways that we use gerund and infinitives.

1. Some verbs are followed by gerunds and some verbs are followed by infinitives. Do not change the gerund or infinitive. They always remain the same. If we want to use the future tense, past tense, etc., then we only change the "verb" that is before the gerund or infinitive.

Verb + gerund
  • I enjoyed swimming when I was young.
  • She always avoids going to parties.
  • I can't imagine living without you.
  • She will enjoy seeing her friends.
Verb + infinitive
  • I want to go home.
  • We need to leave early.
  • She managed to finish all of her work.
  • They will need to watch carefully.
With some verbs, we can use either an infinitive or a gerund. It does not matter which one we use.

Verb + gerund or infinitive
  • I like eating out.
    (=I like to eat out.)

  • She began crying.
    (=She began crying.)

  • He loves playing video games.
    (=He loves to play video games.)
2. Sometimes we need an object between the verb and infinitive.

Verb + person + infinitive
  • I persuaded my girlfriend to see an action movie.
  • My father taught me to ride a bike.
  • The teacher allowed the student to go to the bathroom.
3. We can use gerunds when we want a verb to be the subject of a sentence.
  • Learning English is hard.
  • Talking to her is fun.
  • Hiking makes me tired.
4. We can use infinitives after certain adjectives.
  • It is nice to meet you.
  • She was delighted to get your letter.
  • It is not easy to learn English.
5. Many times when we use a noun we can also use a gerund. This is true after prepositions. There are many expressions that end in a preposition that can be followed by a gerund.
  • I am excited about going on the trip.
  • She believes in helping others.
  • We are tired of doing his work.
6. We can put infinitives after some nouns or verbs to show a reason or purpose.
  • I came to help.
  • She went to the store to buy milk.
  • Use this book to study for the test.
7. We can put infinitives after nouns or be verbs.
  • There is no reason to worry.
  • Nick's plan is to start his own company.
  • We have permission to use this room.
We will cover everything here in more detail in the following lessons. Gerunds and infinitives are a key part of the English language, so it is important that you practice these lessons enough. Also, make sure to come back to review them from time to time. Learning English takes time, so do not rush through the lessons. Study the English grammar points carefully and make sure you understand well enough to use the grammar point in an English conversation.