Verbs followed by '-ing' or infinitive

Verbs followed by '-ing' or infinitive

Do you know when to use -ing and when to use to + infinitive after a verb? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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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Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 14:42

In reply to by guotitang

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Hi guotitang,

Yes, I'd like to play football is correct. Would like is followed by to + infinitive. (Would like is structurally different from like.)

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello JJ Bautista,

The choice of verb-ing or to verb depends on the preceding verb. Some verbs must be followed by verb-ing and some by to verb. Some can be followed by either, and then the meaning may change. However, the difference needs to be learned for each case; there is no overall rule of the kind you suggest.

For example:

I forgot to go to the shop. [= I didn't go because I didn't remember]

I forgot going to the shop. [= I went to the shop but have no memory of it]

I like going swimming at the weekend. [= I enjoy the activity]

I like to go swimming at the weekend. [= this is my preferred habit]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Suguru on Wed, 19/08/2020 - 03:01

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Hi, I have a question. how do native speakers judge which verb go with Infinitive or -ing form? It is difficult to memorize all verbs and which form they will take...

Hi Suguru,

Yes, this is a tricky area! And I'm afraid I don't have an easy answer. There are some general patterns. For example, verbs about preferences (e.g. like, love, prefer, hate, don't mind ...) are often followed by the -ing form, and verbs about intentions (e.g. want, hope, wish, intend, plan, expect ...) are often followed by to + infinitive. It's useful to be aware of these patterns. But they are general patterns only, and I'm sure there are many verbs that do not follow these patterns. 

Native speakers learn not by rules but by seeing and hearing these words many, many times as they grow up, and then by using them in meaningful situations. So, I would suggest that, as well as learning rules and patterns, looking for opportunities to use new words and structures is very important for learning them.

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Pola on Tue, 18/08/2020 - 16:25

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Hi, everyone Can I say, she's learning to learn English. Or she's want to learn English Which is sentence right

Hi Pola,

The sentences mean different things.

  • The first one means 'she's learning how to learn English'. It's grammatically correct.
  • The second one shows what she wants (not what she does, like the first sentence). A correction is needed to the verb: She wants to learn English.

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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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,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team