Verbs followed by '-ing' or by 'to' + infinitive 1

Do you know when to use -ing and when to use to + infinitive after a verb?

Look at these examples to see how the verb forms are used.

I enjoy learning languages.
I want to learn a new language.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Verbs followed by '-ing' or by 'to' + infinitive 1: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

A verb can be followed by another verb. The second one usually needs to change into the -ing form or the to + infinitive form. Which form you need depends on what the first verb is.

Verbs followed by the -ing form

When enjoy, admit and mind are followed by another verb, it must be in the -ing form.

I enjoy travelling.
He admitted stealing the necklace.
I don't mind waiting if you're busy.

Other verbs in this group include avoid, can't help, consider, dislike, feel like, finish, give up, miss, practise and suggest.

Like and love can be followed by the -ing form and the to + infinitive form. They are both correct.

Verbs followed by to + infinitive form

When want, learn and offer are followed by another verb, it must be in the to + infinitive form.

I want to speak to the manager.
She's learning to play the piano.
He offered to help us wash up.

Other verbs in this group include afford, agree, ask, choose, decide, expect, hope, plan, prepare, promise, refuse and would like.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Verbs followed by '-ing' or by 'to' + infinitive' 1: Grammar test 2

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Profile picture for user sribashu30

Submitted by sribashu30 on Fri, 07/08/2020 - 15:44

What is the subject and the predicate of the following sentence? There are a number of Latin books in the Library? Kindly answer it with clarification.

Hello sribashu30,

'there' is what is known as a dummy subject -- it's not really the subject, but stands in the place of the subject. The real subject is the noun phrase 'a number of Latin books'.

You can also read more about this here and here.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by tikah on Tue, 21/07/2020 - 01:43

Hello, Is there any way to tell when a verb should be followed by -ing or by to + infinitive? I mean any verb that outside this list. Thank you.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 21/07/2020 - 08:13

In reply to by tikah


Hello tikah,

I'm afraid there's nothing in the verb itself which will tell you what form follows it. You simply need to memorise which verbs are followed by verb-ing, which by to+verb and which by the base form of the verb. Some verbs can be followed by more than one form, with changes in the meaning resulting.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dilnoza Sulaymonova on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 11:59

good luck

Submitted by Sophea on Mon, 01/06/2020 - 14:38

Hi ! I want to learned more basic grammar .Coz I don’t know how to use properly grammars..

Submitted by Edson alberto on Mon, 27/04/2020 - 07:10

hi , I want to learning more. thanks for all

Submitted by Heloisa Valare… on Fri, 24/04/2020 - 10:45

How can I know if the verb isn't in this list if it must followed by '-ing' or by 'to' + infinitive? What would be the rule for the verbs help, work, reach, say, study, give, show, think, see, answer, find and apply?

Hello Heloisa

You can find more verbs like these on this and this page here on LearnEnglish, but any good dictionary will show this kind of information (follow the link to see an example).

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Razmohammad on Thu, 16/04/2020 - 21:26

I want to learn possessive pronouns I don't have information about how and when we use possessive pronouns

Submitted by redream on Mon, 13/04/2020 - 07:16

Hello dear, I am not sure it is suitable topic for the question... What is the difference between 'heating source' and 'heat source'.. Thank you in advance :)

Hello redream

I'd need to see the phrases in context to say anything for sure, but in general, I understand 'heat source' to be more general than 'heating source'. 'heating' refers to a system used to keep a space warm, whereas 'heat' is more general. Instead of referring to a home or office, for example, it could refer to an industrial process or many other situations.

Hope this helps.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by zabiullah on Sun, 12/04/2020 - 18:54

thanks; it can help us how to write sentences without any mistakes. please, give us information, some verbs are followed by ing form and to plus invintives...
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Thu, 09/04/2020 - 22:33

It's quiet helpful.
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Submitted by Elena Solodiagina on Tue, 07/04/2020 - 15:13

Thank you!

Submitted by Othman Aligibaito on Tue, 31/03/2020 - 15:33

Good afternoon teachers I would like to thank you very much for your kind explanation for Beginner to Pre_intermediate level. In case of past simple we can add ing or not ? for example Its correct to say Iam planning to travel to London Or Iam preparing to the exam Regards Aligibaito

Hello Aligibaito

We're glad you found the explanation helpful!

The tense of the verb doesn't change the verb after it. For example, whether you 'I'm planning', 'I planned' or 'I had planned', you can always say 'to travel to London' after it. The same is true with 'to prepare', though please note that it needs to be followed by a verb -- instead of 'I prepared to the exam', you should say something like 'I prepared to take the exam'.

Does that make sense?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Alberto Miglietta on Fri, 13/03/2020 - 18:40

Thank you. Well done!

Submitted by Thiru06 on Sat, 29/02/2020 - 02:51

Thank you, that really helps! For years I'm using these grammers without knowing which one to use at which place. Now it got sorted.

Submitted by Engy_a on Wed, 26/02/2020 - 09:04

thank you its helpful

Submitted by Tun Yee on Tue, 25/02/2020 - 11:50

I make a note all with thanks

Submitted by AhilKannan on Tue, 04/02/2020 - 03:11

Thank you. It is really helpful and exciting.