What do you already know?
Read these sentences:
- Playing soccer every day provides Naomi with good exercise.
- Naomi wants to play soccer every day for the exercise.
What are gerunds and infinitives?
Gerunds and infinitives are different verb forms. Both act as nouns. They help us to talk about the ideas of actions, such as the idea of running, talking, and breathing or to run, to talk, and to breathe. As a noun, gerunds and infinitives can work as a subject, an object of the verb, or the object of a preposition.
What is a gerund?
A gerund is a verb in the –ing (present participle) form that acts as a noun.
What is an infinitive?
An infinitive is the base form of a verb with the preceding to. It can also act as a noun. We usually use infinitives after certain verbs and in the construction it + be + adjective.
Take another look
- To simply read your homework is not enough; you must also practice what you read.
- Simply reading your homework is not enough; you must also practice what you read.
INSTRUCTIONS: Rewrite each sentence to correct its error with a gerund or an infinitive.
- Study English requires good reading and writing skills.
- People with anxiety often do not want to leaving their home during the coronavirus.
- It is possible to working from home during the pandemic.
- To understanding how to learn new vocabulary helps both readers and writers.
- I stopped to eat chocolate because it had too many calories and it was making me sick.
What are the special rules for using gerunds and infinitives?
Some verbs can be followed only by gerunds. Some verbs can be followed only by infinitives. Some verbs can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive. Here are some examples:
|Verbs that can be followed only by gerunds||Verbs that can be followed only by infinitives||Verbs that can be followed by either gerunds or infinitives|
Infinitives are not often used as subjects. Gerunds are more common. When you use an infinitive as a subject, it sounds formal and extremely old-fashioned.
- Choosing a college major is not easy.
- To choose a college major is not easy.
Both are correct, but the first is much more common.
INSTRUCTIONS: Fill in the blank with the correct form of the word in parentheses.
- _____ (burn) garbage has harmful effects on the environment, especially the air.
- One reason many immigrants decide _____ (become) citizens is to have the right to vote.
- It is often very difficult ______ (determine) whether information on social media is accurate.
- Scientists were interested in _________ (learn) more about the monkeypox virus.
- I forgot __________ (take) the garbage out. Do you remember? Did I do it or not?
What are some common errors that writers make with gerunds and infinitives?
Here’s one …
- Incorrect: Playing games are a good way to make new friends.
- Correct: Playing games is a good way to make new friends.
When they are used as a subject, gerunds and infinitives always take a singular verb.
Here’s another …
- Incorrect: Many people think about walk for exercise. They worry about to gain weight. By walk, they will stay healthy.
- Correct: Many people think about walking for exercise. They worry about gaining weight. By walking, they will stay healthy.
Use a gerund after a preposition.
Here’s one more …
- Incorrect: He will soon finish to write his essay.
- Correct: He will soon finish writing his essay.
- Incorrect: She promises working hard.
- Correct: She promises to work hard.
- Both are correct and mean the same thing: They love to eat pizza. They love eating pizza.
- Correct but with a distinct meaning: I forgot to eat my lunch today.
- Correct but with a distinct meaning: I forgot eating my lunch today.
Remember that some verbs are followed only by gerunds, some verbs are followed only by infinitives and some verbs can be followed by either. However, there are some special exceptions, such as forgot, go on, quit, regret, remember, stop, and try.
INSTRUCTIONS: Use the information above to answer the questions below.
1. All people want __________________ a better life.
B. to have
C. to having
2. The internet problem caused us __________________ class last night.
C. to cancel
D. to canceling
3, I didn’t remember __________________ my homework, and so I did it twice!
C. to do
4. He asked __________________ with the manager because there was a problem with his order.
B. to speaking
C. to speak
5. You can improve your health just by __________________ several miles very day.
D. to walk
6. I didn’t remember __________________ my homework, and now I will get 0 points because I have nothing to give to the teacher.
B. to do
7. Which is correct grammar?
A. Is easy to use the computer.
B. It is easy to use the computer.
C. Is easy use the computer.
D. It’s easy use the computer.
8. Which is the infinitive form?
D. to declare
9. Working 14 hours every day __________________ too much.
D. to be
10. Which is gerund form?
D. to sign
Use these resources to study more about gerunds and infinitives: