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Basic Rules for Gerunds and Infinitives

  Posted on: November 10, 2016

by Lachlan Gonzales

Gerunds and infinitives can replace a noun in a sentence.

Gerund = the present participle (-ing) form of the verb, e.g., singing, dancing, running.

Infinitive = to + the base form of the verb, e.g., to sing, to dance, to run.

Whether you use a gerund or an infinitive depends on the main verb in the sentence.

I expect to have the results of the operation soon. (Infinitive)

I anticipate having the research completed eventually. (Gerund)

Gerunds can be used after certain verbs including enjoy, fancy, discuss, dislike, finish, mind, suggest, recommend, keep, and avoid.

  1. After prepositions of place and time.
    I made dinner before getting home.
    He looked unhappy after seeing his work schedule.
  2. To replace the subject or object of a sentence
    Lachlan likes eating coconut oil.
    Jumping off a cliff is dangerous, but a real thrill.

Infinitives can be used after certain verbs including agree, ask, decide, help, plan, hope, learn, want, would like, and promise.

  1. After many adjectives:
    It is hard to make dinner this late.
    I find it difficult to describe my feelings about writing research essays.
  2. To show purpose:
    I left for Russia to study Russian.
    I came to the office to solve the mystery of the missing keys.

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