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Dive into English Verb Patterns: Infinitive vs Gerund Edition

When to use infinitive and gerund in English verb patterns

The Importance of Knowing Verb Patterns in English

One of the most intricate aspects of the English language is understanding verb patterns: when to use the infinitive or gerund after specific vocabulary. This often leads to confusion among English learners. In this blog post, we will explore the rules for using infinitives and gerunds after certain verbs, and highlight some examples where the choice of verb pattern can change the meaning of a sentence.

This is only an introduction. Whenever you learn new English vocabulary, also learn how that vocabulary is used in a sentence. Every new word you learn will have its own specific use and context.

English verbs followed by infinitive or gerund

Verbs Followed by Infinitive:

Let's start with verbs that are typically followed by infinitives:

a. Want: When you express desires, preferences, or intentions, you often use the infinitive form.

  • I want to learn English.

  • She wants to travel the world.

b. Decide: When making decisions, infinitives are your go-to.

  • They decided to visit the museum.

  • He decided to change his career.

c. Plan: When talking about future plans, use infinitives.

  • We plan to have a picnic next Sunday.

  • She plans to start a new project.

Infinitive verb patterns: want to do, decide to do and plan to do

Verbs Followed by Gerund:

Now, let's look at verbs that are typically followed by gerunds:

a. Enjoy: When you derive pleasure from an activity, you'll use the gerund.

  • I enjoy swimming in the ocean.

  • They enjoy playing chess together.

b. Hate: Expressing strong dislikes, you'll choose the gerund.

  • She hates cleaning the house.

  • We hate waiting in long lines.

c. Avoid: When you want to steer clear of something, use the gerund.

  • He avoids eating fast food.

  • They avoid going to crowded places.

Verbs with gerunds: enjoy doing, hate doing. avoid doing

Verb patterns with Changing Meanings:

Here, we'll explore some verbs where the choice of infinitive or gerund can alter the meaning of the sentence:

a. Remember:

  • Remember doing: This refers to recalling a specific past action.

    • She remembers meeting him at the conference.

  • Remember to do: This implies not forgetting to perform an intended action.

    • Please remember to call your mom when you arrive.

b. Forget:

  • Forget doing: Indicates that you don't remember or recall a past action.

    • I forgot sending that email.

  • Forget to do: Implies that you neglected to perform an intended action.

    • Don't forget to lock the door when you leave.

Remember doing or remember to do

Verbs Followed by Both Infinitives and Gerunds:

There are certain verbs where both the infinitive and gerund can be used with a slight change in nuance. There is virtually no difference in meaning between these:

a. Like:

  • Like doing: Expresses a general enjoyment or preference.

    • She likes singing in the shower.

  • Like to do: Indicates a willingness or intention.

    • I like to go for a run every morning.

b. Love:

  • Love doing: Shows affection or enthusiasm for an activity.

    • They love dancing at weddings.

  • Love to do: Signifies a strong desire or affection for something.

    • He loves to travel to exotic places.

Love to do or love doing?

Always Keep Verb Patterns in Mind

Understanding verb patterns is crucial for effective communication in English. While it may seem daunting at first, with practice, you'll become more confident in choosing between infinitives and gerunds. Remember that context is key, and the right choice can significantly impact the meaning of your sentences.

So, keep practicing and gradually master this essential aspect of the English language.

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