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Lesson 5.1

The Gerund and Infinitive

El gerundio y infinitivo
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The gerund and the infinitive are forms of verbs that act as nouns. The gerund is formed using the ending “-ing” (walking, eating, etc…). As we saw in the verbs lesson, the infinitive is formed using the preposition “to” (to walk, to eat, etc…).

The gerund and the infinitive are forms of verbs that act as nouns. The gerund is formed using the ending “-ing” (walking, eating, etc…). As we saw in the verbs lesson, the infinitive is formed using the preposition “to” (to walk, to eat, etc…).

Grammatical Rules

1. When one verb is followed by another verb, that verb must be in the gerund or the infinitive. Generally, we use the infinitive after some verbs and the gerund after others, but there are some verbs with which we can use either the gerund of the infinitive.

Verb Gerund Infinitive
  afford X
  agree X
  attempt X
  begin X X
  choose X
  continue X X
  decide X
  detest X
  enjoy X
  expect X
  fail X
  finish X
  hate X X
  hope X
  imagine X
  intend X
  keep X
  learn X
  like X X
  love X X
  manage X
  need X
  offer X
  plan X
  prefer X X
  promise X
  quit X
  recommend X
  refuse X
  regret X
  seem X
  start X X
  suggest X
  tend X
  threaten X
  tolerate X
  try X X
  understand X
  want X
  wish X X

Examples:

 I can’t afford to buy a new car.
 He began to doubt himself. / He began doubting himself.
 They decided to move to Australia in May.
 I enjoy listening to music.
 She hates studying. / She hates to study.
 You love dancing. / You love to dance.
 He needed to leave class early because he had an appointment.
 She can’t tolerate complaining.
 I tried learning English. / I tried to learn English.
 My mother could retire, but she keeps working.

2. We can use the gerund or the infinitive as the object, subject or complement of a sentence, but in general it is more common to use the gerund as the subject.

Ejemplos:

Object:

 I like cooking. / I like to cook.
 She continued working. / She continued to work.

Subject:

 Swimming is good exercise.
 Drinking and driving is dangerous.

Complement:

 The best thing to do when you are sick is to drink a lot of water.
 My favorite exercise is swimming.

3. With some verbs, the meaning of the sentence can change with the use of the gerund or the infinitive.

  forget,   mean,   remember,   stop…

Examples:

Gerund:

 I forgot writing that email.(Meaning: I wrote the email, but I forgot that I wrote it.)

Infinitive:

 I forgot to write that email.(Meaning: I never wrote the email.)

Gerund:

 Stop watching the news.(Meaning: Stop watching the news.)

Infinitive:

 Stop to watch the news.(Meaning: Stop what you are doing and watch the news.)

4. The infinitive is used after adjectives.

  disappointed,   glad,   happy,   pleased,   relieved,   sad,
  surprised…

Examples:

 I’m glad to see you.
 She was surprised to find the door unlocked.

5. Only the gerund can be used after prepositions.

  about,   against,   at,   after,   before,   by,   on,
  without…

Examples:

 He’s good at listening.
 I always read before going to bed.
 You can’t leave without saying goodbye.

6. The gerund is used after certain nouns.

  advantage/disadvantage of,   danger of,   experience in,
  interested in,   opportunity of,   reason for,   problem with…

Examples:

 What is the advantage of waiting?
 I am interested in taking an English class.
 His problem finding a new job was his lack of experience.

7. The gerund is also used after some expressions and phrasal verbs.

  to look forward to,   to be worth,   can’t help,   don’t mind,
  feel like…

Examples:

 We’re really looking forward to seeing you.
 That movie was not worth seeing.
 I can’t help falling in love.
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