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

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Submitted by jafarghaffari on Tue, 11/07/2023 - 01:34


My dear best teacher Peter
Thank you for such clear lessons which include enough simple examples. I learn a lot from you. And Thank YOU, BRITISH COUNCIL.
I read somewhere that there are more verbs which go with ing and to-infinitive and the meaning is different. Verbs like "go on", "quit" and "regret".
I am sorry to say that I didn't find them on this page. Can you please teach them too.
Thank you, Teacher.

Hi jafarghaffari,

We are very happy to hear that you find our website useful :)

You may find this page from Cambridge Dictionary (linked) useful, especially the section "To-infinitive or -ing form with a change in meaning".


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Ahmad Mukit Khan on Mon, 10/07/2023 - 12:25


It helps us try to change our lives. Is 'helps us try' a bare infinitive here?

Hi Ahmad Mukit Khan,

Yes, right.

After the verb "help", you can put an infinitive verb either with "to" (... helps us to try ...) or without "to". Both are grammatically correct and the meaning is the same.


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by nino23 on Wed, 01/03/2023 - 17:18


i have a question about the infinitive forms. can we use them in different tenses. for example the "simple infinitive"
"i expect to pass the exam"
"i expected to pass the exam" ( can we use expected as a past simple form)

the same for continuous infinitive
"they appear to be gossiping about her"
" they appeared to be gossiping about her"( can i use appeared instead of appear)

and i also want to know the difference in using of "the continuous infinitive" and " perfect continuous infinitive" and "perfect infinitive"
as far as i know we use the continuous infinitive to express that the action is happening around the time expressed by the main verb of the sentence.
we use the perfect infinitive that something happened before the main verb and that thing is not something that was in progress at that time.
and we use the perfect continuous infinitive to express an action in progress or happening over a period of time and this is also happening before the main verb in the sentence.
i hope you can check if i have understood it right and if not i hope you can explain it to me. thank you

Hi nino23,

Yes, that's right. It seems you've got a good understanding of these structures :)


LearnEnglish team

Hello. Verbs which are followed by to+ verb can be in any tenses like past, past perfect, future. It doesn't matter
The rule is the same.

Submitted by Laura3000 on Sun, 30/10/2022 - 22:43



Can you help with this sentence?

Many people worry that texting will make people forget how to write well.

Why is "forget" and not "to forget"?

Thank you.

Hello Laura3000,

There are many verb patterns in English. Some verbs are followed by an -ing form, for example, while others are followed by an infinitive with to an the infinitive without to.

The verb make here has the following pattern: make + object + bare infinitive > make people forget.



The LearnEnglish Team

That is called "causative verbs". Please, take a look at, it will clarify you a lot.
Causative verbs, like "let", "get", "help", "make" (among others) follow the pattern
causative_verb + pronoun + other_verb + predicate.
The "to" can be omited. Example:
"This will help you improve your English "
"Make them finish their homework soon".

Hope this helps.-