Some verbs have the pattern N + V + to+infinitive:

They agreed to help.
We decided to go.

Some verbs have the pattern N + V + N + to+infinitive:

She told him to go home.
They advised us to wait.

Note: we suggest that you read about Verbs with -ing forms before doing this activity.



Hello Alexandr Topalov,

This is a question of form rather than meaning. There is no intrinsic meaning to either form; it is simply a question of remembering which verbs are followed by to + infinitive and which by -ing.

Some verbs can be followed by either form, and then there is a difference in meaning. The links I provided in my answer to your earlier question clarify this with examples.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello... I'm Arrumi
I have some question: what is verb patterns?
Is it Important to learn?
how can we memorize the patterns?

Hello Jasmine Arrumi,

Verb patterns describe how verbs are used in relation to their objects. Some verbs have objects (transitive verbs), some do not (intransitive verbs) and some can be with an object or without (ergative verbs). Some verbs have indirect objects as well as direct objects.

It's very important to learn the pattern for each verb if you want to use it correctly in a sentence, because the verb pattern exists independent of the particular tense or aspect which is used. Our section on verb patterns starts here - use the links on the right to look at specific patterns.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everyone,
I have questions about question 8: We always enjoy having friends to stay.
Does this sentence have the same meaning as "We always enjoy having friends stay."?
If so, would it be more grammatically correct to omit 'to' in this case?
If not, what's the difference between these two sentences?
Thank you.

Hello Delta,

Yes, they mean the same thing. The sentence without 'to' is more common in American English, whereas I'd say the second is more natural in British English. It is a reduced form of the sentence 'We always enjoy having friends come to stay'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Kirk. Now I understand it.

I have two questions
1. He said (that) people can't read well. Can "that" be omitted here?
2. Can present and past progressive verb preceed Infinitives in a sentence. E.g., "he is trying to annoy me." or while I was walking to meet him, I fell."

Hello Timmosky,

Yes, most of the time, 'that' can be omitted after a verb of attribution (i.e. one that reports what people say or think) such as 'say'. If omitting it could cause confusion, then it's generally included, especially in writing, but in speech it's especially common to elide it.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any case in which there is a restriction on verb tenses before an infinitive of purpose.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello guys, i have two questions as regards gerunds and infinitives: "he starts to cry" and he starts crying."
1. what's the difference between the two.
2. If they are indeed the same and both correct grammatically, then there are some verbs that have the attribute of being followed by either infinitive or gerund.
3. Are all forms of these verbs I.e. present past and progressive usable this way....thanks again

Hello Timmosky,

In this example the forms 'to cry' and 'crying' can be used interchangeably.

There are some verbs which are followed by the -ing form and some which are followed by 'to + infinitive'. There are also, however, some verbs which can be followed by either form and with these there is sometimes a change in meaning. The most common are as follows:



with verbing: it’s in your memory

e.g.  I remember traveling to Italy in 1998.

with to verb: your memory worked, or not

e.g. I forgot to go to the shop – sorry!


go on

with verbing: continue

e.g.  He went on talking and wouldn’t stop!

with to verb: do something new

e.g. He went on to have great success academically.



with verbing: something in your past

e.g.  I’ve always regretted not helping him.

with to verb: official announcements

e.g. We regret to have to tell you that…



with verbing: if there is no object

e.g.  The director allows smoking.

with to verb: if there is an object

e.g. The director forbids workers to smoke.



with verbing: the activity is not finished

e.g.  I saw him kissing her.

with verb: the action is completed

e.g. I saw her kiss him goodnight.



with verbing: it’s an experiment

e.g.  I’m going to try making lasagne.

with to verb: you want to do something

e.g. I’m trying to learn when to use gerunds!



with verbing: it will involve this

e.g.  I will mean working very hard.

with to verb: it’s what you intend

e.g. I mean to make a good impression.



with verbing: for subjects or lessons

e.g.  I learned typing at college.

with to verb: for the result (success, failure)

e.g. I learned to drive when I was 17.



with verbing: ended an activity

e.g.  I stopped smoking last year.

with to verb: in order to

e.g. I stopped to answer the phone.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team