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? 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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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

Profile picture for user sribashu30

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

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

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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

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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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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good luck

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

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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

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hi , I want to learning more. thanks for all