Verbs followed by '-ing' or by 'to' + infinitive 2

Do you know the difference between stop doing something and stop to do something?

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

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

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/forget

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

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Language level

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Thu, 21/10/2021 - 20:10

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Hello. Could you please help me? Which sentence is correct or both? Why?
1- If you want to stay healthy, you should try to do more exercise.
2- If you want to stay healthy, you should try doing more exercise.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Both sentences are correct.

The verb 'try' can be followed by either an <-ing form> or <to infinitive>. However, there is a difference in meaning.

Try + to verb means 'attempt':
~ I tried (attempted) to open the window.
In this sentence we don't know if the speaker succeeded in opening the window or not.

Try + -ing means 'experiment to see if something is a good idea':
~ I tried talking to her.
In this sentence we know that the speaker talked to her. The question is whether or not talking was a good idea or a mistake.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mehransam05 on Mon, 29/03/2021 - 17:53

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Dear team, Where "to" is used as a A)proposition B)sign of infinitive Thanks in advance.

Submitted by Jonathan R on Tue, 30/03/2021 - 04:07

In reply to by mehransam05

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Hi mehransam05,

When to is a preposition, it introduces a noun, pronoun or -ing form verb. For example:

  • Let's go to the supermarket. ('the supermarket' = noun)
  • He passed the ball to me. ('me' = pronoun)
  • I'm looking forward to seeing you. ('seeing' = -ing form verb)

When to is part of the infinitive, it introduces a verb in the infinitive. For example:

  • I went to the shop to buy bread.
  • To get a certificate, you need to attend all the lessons.
  • I'd like to speak to the manager.

I hope that helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for your response, but I don't know which verbs are followed by "to" as a proposition, for example "accustomed to + ing form" To find these verbs and adjectives while speaking is sometimes difficult. We often prefer to use "to" as a part of infinitive without thinking about the conception of the whole sentence. I need a rule or a structure to rely on. Thanks

Hi mehransam05,

I see. Unfortunately, this is an area of grammar which doesn't really have clear and logical rules. Although all verbs and adjectives which require the preposition to do have something in common, which is the underlying meaning of the word to (i.e., movement in a certain direction), this doesn't really help us to predict which verbs/adjectives require to and which ones require a different preposition. There are some general patterns which you may find helpful - have a look at this Cambridge Dictionary page, for example. But apart from that, the best approach is to make a note of the preposition when you learn a verb/adjective.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Natasa Tanasa on Tue, 02/02/2021 - 16:56

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Hello everyone! I would like to know the difference between the next sentences: 1. It started to rain. / It started raining. 2. I regret buying.... / I regret to buy... Thank you in advance!! :) Best regard, Natasa

Hello Natasa Tanasa,

Some verbs can be followed with either an infinitive or a gerund without any change in meaning. Start is one of these, so the two sentences in your first point are interchangeable.

 

Other verbs change meaning depending on whether they are followed by an infinitive or a gerund. Regret is one of these.

regret + verb-ing describes a past action which you feel bad about:

I regret buying it = I bought it and it was a bad idea

regret + to verb is used in formal expressions to apologise for an unfortunate situation:

We regret to tell you that your ticket is no longer valid = unfortunately, you can't use the ticket

I can't think of a context in which you might use regret to buy, however. This is really about the meaning of 'buy' rather than the grammar, of course.

 

Some other common verbs which change their meaning with infinitives and gerunds are remember, forget, go on, advise, allow, permit, forbid, see, watch, hear, try, like, love, hate, mean, learn, teach and stop.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rosario70 on Sun, 31/01/2021 - 11:24

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Hi to everyone, yesterday i heard this sentence : once you are finished clearing security....... i am wondering if clearing stands for a noun o ing form, if it is a noun i could say like this: Once you are finished with the clearing security..... TIA

Hi rosario70,

The word 'clearing' here is a participle and not a noun, so no article is used.

The form is finish + verb-ing.

There are many verbs like this: start, continue and stop, for example.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gloria Pérez on Wed, 20/01/2021 - 12:40

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Hi Kirk, Some days ago I wrote you in relation with a doubt on the possible verb patterns used with the verbs to recommend, to suggest and to advice. However, I have not seen my question published. I'm now wondering whether I may have made a mistake when posting the question (although I'm quite sure that when I save it I read the usual message that my question had been correctly sent and awaiting to be reviewed before publishing) or whetehr the doubt was falling out of a B1 level scope and therefore not published. THANK you very much Kirk!

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 21/01/2021 - 09:10

In reply to by Gloria Pérez

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Hello Gloria,

Is the comment you mean this one (on 'can' and 'could')? If that's the one you mean, it looks as though you posted it on a different page than you remembered. As you'll see, I responded to that comment on that page.

If that's not the right question, then you're welcome to post it again here.

Best wishes,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MascaChapas27 on Fri, 15/01/2021 - 09:59

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Hello everyone! I have a little doubt about the use of forget + ing and forget + to + infinitive. In an exam I had to complete the following phrase: "Oh no! I forgot ___ tickets for the concert!" (buy) I filled the gap with "to buy" but my teacher claims that I am wrong and the actual answer is "buying" because the action happened in the past. I thought that made no sense so I checked some online english pages and they all seem to agree with me, so I'm really confused. What is the correct answer?

Hi MascaChapas27,

I agree with your answer. It's true that forgot refers to the past. But the meaning that makes most sense in this sentence is that I needed to buy tickets, but I forgot to do that (i.e. I didn't actually buy the tickets) and then I suddenly realised (Oh no!).

If we say I forgot buying ... , that means I did buy the tickets, but I forgot that I bought them. It's grammatically possible, but the situation seems less likely.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mr.yashar on Sat, 19/12/2020 - 11:36

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hi.i search the passive forms of gerund and infinitive.is this gramer this?

Hello mr.yashar,

If we take the verb 'do' as an example, the passive form of the gerund is 'being done' and the passive form of the infinitive is 'to be done'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Yigido on Tue, 15/12/2020 - 15:39

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Hi team, I am confused about this sentence which is in my book''Bazaars selling food of their cities.'' How we can use just -selling- without'to be'. I haven't known yet?

Hello Yigido,

Is it perhaps the title of an article? Often words are left out in titles of newspaper articles, for example, where space is limited. We'd need to know a little more about the context to say much more.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Ok teacher, after that I am going to be careful about context.

Submitted by Afrizal Idris on Wed, 18/11/2020 - 09:18

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Thankyou for the lesson

Submitted by emmanuelniyomugabo12 on Tue, 29/09/2020 - 19:54

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Thanks for the lesson.

Submitted by CHÉKYTAN on Tue, 11/08/2020 - 14:36

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Hello sir, Where can I find expert level (C1- C2) lessons here on BritishCouncil website?

Hi Chekytan,

We don't have resources at C2 level at the moment, but you can find C1 resources by typing 'C1' in the search bar.

You may like to try the Skills sections, which all have resources at C1 level.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by I. Innocent RUBONEKA on Sun, 12/07/2020 - 16:02

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Thank you for the interesting lessons

Submitted by ITeon on Thu, 02/07/2020 - 09:08

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Really Helpful :) I did not know this before :)

Submitted by Nehashri on Sun, 17/05/2020 - 13:42

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Walking is good for health. It is said that GERUND is a verbal noun and it has the force of a VERB and a NOUN. In the above sentence WALKING acts as a noun because it is the subject of the verb IS. So, in this case it has the force of a noun, but how does it has the force of a VERB? Reading books is my hobby. In the above sentence, Reading has an object. Thus, Reading has the force of a verb. Moreover, Reading is also the subject of the sentence. Hence, it has the force of a noun as well. In such case it is easy to understand, but what if gerund has not any object and it has been alone as subject? In such case, How to teach that it has both forces i.e., a noun and a verb?

Hello Nehashri,

Gerunds behave as verbs within the clause, so they can take an object or be modified by an adverb, but the clause as a whole (which could be just the gerund or could contain more words) functions as a noun within the sentence.

In your second example, Reading books is a non-finite clause where the gerund is followed by an object (a verbal property). The non-finite clause is the subject (a nominal property) in the larger sentence.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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

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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

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

In reply to by zahid51

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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:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/beginner-to-pre-intermediate/adjectives-and-prepositions

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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Dear sir, But "go on" ... Does use this rule ?

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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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!

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

In reply to by fred

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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.

 

Peter

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

Kirk

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.

Submitted by mehransam05 on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 21:11

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Hey there,  Can U help me with this? "Quality is critical to satisfying customers"  Why not "to satisfy"?  I know the task of "to" as a proposition, but I don't know the structure,  Or  Why don't we use "for" instead of "to" (for satisfying) ?? Thanks in advance.

Hi mehransam05,

Both of these sentences are grammatical:

Quality is critical to satisfying customers.

Quality is critical to satisfy customers.

The first tells us that quality is an important element in satisfying customers.

The secnd tells us that quality is important in order to satisfy customers - it shows a causal relationship.

 

We can use for in a similar way to to in the first example, but it is more often used when talking about the beneficiary of the action (who it is done for):

Quality is critical to satisfying customers for our company.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by PAMARTIN on Fri, 20/03/2020 - 17:48

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Hello, I don't understand the last question of the grammar test n°2. My answer is "stop + To + infinitive" because he stops an activity so that he can do something else (spanish class). But the right answer is "stop + ing". Can you explain me the answer? Thank you

Hello PAMARTIN,

We use the form [stop + to infinitive] when the second action is the cause of the first action. For example, I can say:

I stopped French classes to take Spanish lessons.

However, this would require a very specific situation. We would need to know that it was necessary for me to stop French in order to take Spanish - in other words, that it was impossible for me to take Spanish unless I first stopped French.

 

There is no indication of a causal connection in the sentence in the task. Rather, the sentence simply describes two actions without any direct causal connection. In other words, we have no reason to think that the person in question could not have continued both if he or she had wished. Thus, we should use [stop + verbing], which does not say whether or not the two actions are causally connected.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bharati on Sun, 23/02/2020 - 07:10

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Hello, In the example "He was told about John doing the work"Here "doing"is used as gerund or participle? Secondly, What follows verb waste/spend(Gerund or participle) Example-He spends/wastes his time thinking about something. Thanks

Submitted by Bharati on Mon, 09/03/2020 - 12:35

In reply to by Bharati

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Hello, May i seek the clarification sought on the above use of gerund/participle Thanks

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 09/03/2020 - 13:03

In reply to by Bharati

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Hello Bharati

I would call them gerunds.

Please remember that we are here to help people learn to use English, not for specialist grammatical analysis. In other words, questions like this one are more appropriate on another website -- for example, the English Language and Usage StackExchange -- though even there you might find that not everyone wants to entertain this sort of question. This is because the difference between gerunds and participles comes from Latin grammar; in more recent grammars based on linguistics, the distinction is not made. If you read the Wikipedia Gerund article, you can find out more about this.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team