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)

Submitted by GnaisAugustus on Tue, 16/04/2024 - 13:44



Which one is correct? 

I tried to lift the suitcase but it was too heavy.


I tried lifting the suitcase but it was too heavy


I noticed that in your " try to..." example, you ended that sentence with "but" followed by a reason FOR the failure identical to  the one in the my sentence. Is it a convention that "try to..." BE followed by "but"?


Also, tell me whether "reason" should be followed by "of" or "for", in this question paragraph ("for "has been capitalised for your perusal). 


Finally, is the subjunctive "be" that I have used in this question employed in accordance with the rules of Grammar? Once again, the "be" in question is capitalised for your convenience .

Hello GnaisAugustus,

Both could possibly be correct (since 'tried to lift' refers more to difficulty and 'tried lifting' refers more to an experiment), but since 'but it was too heavy' implies that the speaker could not lift the suitcase, I'd say 'tried to lift' is the best answer.

Often there is a phrase with 'but' with both 'try to Verb' and 'try Verbing', so you have to consider what the most likely meaning is when deciding which form to use. The context should make this clear in many contexts. And yes, 'reason for the failure' is correct (not 'reason of').

And yes, it's fine to say 'be' in the way that you did. It's a little unusual in informal conversation -- where we'd probably say 'Is it correct to use 'but' after 'try to?' -- but it is correct.

Best wishes,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by MartialWhite on Sat, 19/08/2023 - 04:25


Hello, hope you people are fine.
Could I ask correction in following sentence.
"Increasing overpopulation is the biggest threat human beings facing today."

Hello MartialWhite,

There are two possible ways to correct the sentence:

Increasing overpopulation is the biggest threat human beings face today

Increasing overpopulation is the biggest threat facing human beings today

Please note that generally we do not correct sentences for users. Our focus is on explaining, not correcting. Otherwise we would end up just being a proofreading service!



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again MartialWhite,

The first sentence is actually a relative clause where the relative pronoun has been omitted:

Increasing overpopulation is the biggest threat that/which human beings face today.

In a relative clause you need a finite verb (face) after the subject (human beings), not a participle.



The LearnEnglish

Hello, hope all of you are fine.
I have read a sentence recently which I doubt is wrong. I need help in understanding that sentence. The sentence is:
"Problems facing parents should be discussed. "
I think this sentence should be like
*Problems faced by parents should be discussed.*
Your expert opinion is required please.

Hello MartialWhite,

My first reaction to this sentence is the same as yours. The sentence you suggest is definitely correct and means that the problems that parents face should be talked about.

Perhaps the sentence you ask about could make sense in a specific context. I can't think of one where it would, but perhaps it's because I'm not very imaginative! Feel free to share it with us and we can have a look.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Thank you for your response and explanation Kirk.
That sentence I repeat again for clarity. The sentence "Problems facing parents should be discussed. " actually has no specific context, it was presented, as an example in a grammar book, to explain use of participle phrase with a present participle after a noun.
Thank you for your time and cooperation.