Verbs followed by '-ing' or infinitive to change meaning

Verbs followed by '-ing' or infinitive to change meaning

Do you know the difference between stop doing something and stop to do something? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how these verb patterns work.

The bus stopped picking up the children.
The bus stopped to pick up the children. 

I want to try studying with a friend to see if it helps us stay more motivated.
I'm trying to study but it's impossible with all this noise.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

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

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Some verbs have a different meaning depending on whether they are followed by an -ing form or to + infinitive. 


Stop + -ing means the action is not happening any more.

I've stopped buying the newspaper because now I read the news online.

Stopto + infinitive means that someone or something stops an activity so that they can do something else.

He stopped the video to ask the students some questions.


Try + -ing means that you are trying something as an experiment, especially as a possible solution to a problem, to see if it works or not.

Have you tried turning the computer off and on again?

Tryto + infinitive means that something is difficult but you are making an effort to do it. 

I'm trying to learn Japanese but it's very difficult.


Remember + -ing and forget + -ing refer to having (or not having) a memory of something in the past.

I remember watching this film before.
I'll never forget meeting you for the first time in this café.

Rememberto + infinitive and forgetto + infinitive refer to recalling (or not recalling) that there is something we need to do before we do it.

Please remember to buy some milk on the way home.
He forgot to lock the door when he went out.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

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

Language level

Average: 4.2 (42 votes)
Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.

Submitted by Rafael ykrtkd on Fri, 01/05/2020 - 23:44

The second sentence tells us that he or she likes to organise their day to include porridge for break

Submitted by zahid51 on Mon, 20/04/2020 - 15:18

Hello: I just came across this headline in a local English language newspaper: Fixing banking sector key to blunting coronavirus shock. Why is there blunt + ing form after the 'infinitive to' in the headline? Is it correct? Could you please explain? Thanks
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 21/04/2020 - 07:14

In reply to by zahid51


Hello zahid51,

To can be part of an infinitive, but it can also be a preposition and in your example it is the latter. We call this a dependent preposition because it is attached to the adjective key. Prepositions are followed by objects, which are often nouns or gerunds. Here, blunting is a gerund - a verbal noun.

Writing the headline out in full might help to make it clearer:

Fixing the banking sector will be key to blunting the coronavirus shock.


You can read more about prepositions and adjectives, and see more examples, here:



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by 83roman on Sat, 11/04/2020 - 18:07

Dear sir, But "go on" ... Does use this rule ?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 12/04/2020 - 06:47

In reply to by 83roman


Hello 83roman,

Go on can be followed by either the to-infinitive or by an -ing form, but the meaning is different:


go on + to-infinitive is used to describe the next step in a plan or sequence of actions:

He studied at Oxford and went on to have a successful career as a psychologist.


go on + -ing form is used to describe an action or situation which continues:

She was tired but she kept on walking nevertheless.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by fred on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 06:30

HI! what is the difference here? I like to have the latest mobile phone. I like having the latest mobile phone. I like to watch people skiing. I like watching people skiing. thanks a bunch!
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 07:51

In reply to by fred


Hello fred,

Like + -ing means the same as enjoy. It tells us that we get pleasure from a particular action or state.

Like + to verb means a preference in terms of behaviour.


For example, we can compare these two sentences:

I like eating porridge for breakfast.

I like to eat porridge for breakfast.

The first sentence tells us that eating porridge gives the speaker pleasure. The second sentence tells us that he or she likes to organise their day to include porridge for breakfast.



The LearnEnglish Team

thank you very much for the answer isn't it more common among English native speakers to say "would like" instead of "like"? any difference? I would like to eat porridge for breakfast. thank you sir

Hello fred

There's a difference between 'like' and 'would like'. We use 'like' to speak about things that we enjoy or which please us -- for example, 'I like running' or 'She likes apples'. In Spanish, we'd normally use 'gustar' for 'like' ('She likes apples' = 'Le gustan las manzanas').

We use 'would like' to express wishes in a polite way -- it's a more polite way of saying 'want'. For example, 'I would like an apple' (I could say this to a fruitseller) or 'I would like to see Las Fallas in Valencia'. In Spanish, we'd normally say use 'quisiera' or 'querría' ('I would like an apple' = 'Quisiera una manzana').

Does that make sense?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Wow, I think like this answer. Terminology is difficult for me to remember. Are you saying that verb+ing = pleasure- how we experience -(our feeling) and infinitive = a preference vs something else? Is this only for "like" and is it correct in all tenses? Please give me a little more, i would appreciate an explanation for : I like coding ( i experience pleasure when I do it) vs- I like to code. ( ? ) I like/d seeing the man playing the drums: vs. I like/d to see the man play the drums: Do all statives take the ing except when the meaning changes? Confusing.