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York Scene 2 Language Focus

Rob and Stephen enjoy talking about grammar, so stop to watch them discuss verbs followed by gerunds, v-ing, and infinitives, to + verb, as well as chat about too and very.

Watch the video. Then go to Task and do the activities.


Language level

Intermediate: B1
Upper intermediate: B2


hallo teachers...
I read in some grammar books, gerund and to infinitive can be used interchangeably. Can I use to infinitive in this sentence "swimming is my hobby" to be "to swim is my hobby".
Is there any difference between the use of gerund and to infinitive as a subject?

Thanks in advance

Hello Risa warysha,

I would certainly not make a statement that gerunds and infinitives can be used interchangeably. Even in cases where both are grammatically posssible there is generally a difference in meaning or, at the very least, style.


As far as their use as subjects goes, I think there is a small difference.

The gerund is far more commonly used and describes an activity:

Swimming is my hobby.


The infinitive is generally used with a more conceptual sense, especially when describing hypothetical or abstract considerations. For example, I would not use the infinitive in your example, but I might use it in a hypothetical context:

To swim would be one option.


The infinitive as subject often carries a suggestion of if or should: If we swim then...

You can see this also in Shakespeare's famous line:

To be, or not to be, that is the question... (Should I...)


It's a complex and subtle question. I hope those examples help.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi team, I am confused about one thing.
Could you tell me what's the purpose of verb patterns? I mean Why we use two verbs together? I thought we say one sentence insted of two sentences but I am not sure.

Hi Nuro,

The purpose of verb patterns is the same as the purpose of any language feature: to express meaning. Languages evolve through use, so there is no plan as to why a particular form exists; it is simply a way of communicating information. Two verbs together express a different meaning to one alone, but what that meaning is depends on the verbs used and the pattern in which they are used. I'm sorry if that's a very general answer but it's a very general question!


You can read more about different verb patterns in our section on the topic:

There are links below the explanations to various individual patterns.



The LearnEnglish Team

I' m really sad this is the last episode of these series . I wish to see more of them.

Hello dear team, I'm so pleased for not having too much trouble learning this topic but I'm really confused with one of them, i mean with this verb "like" because in the video Stephen says: "i liked looking for treasure" and Mr Rob says that verbs following for "like" are use in the ing-form but in tast 1, Verb patterns 1, sentence 6 says: "Would you like _____ tonight? There are some good films on at the cinema" and the correct answer is A. following by "to" infinitive form, it's not even C. both of them. Could you help me to understand pls. I hope you can understand my question. you guys are the best

Hello Joel,

Verbs following like can be in the -ing form or the to-infinitive form:

I like swimming. [I enjoy it]

I like to swim. [This is my choice of how to spend time]


Your example, however, is a little different. In your sentence you have the form would like and not just like. We use would like to describe what we want or desire and it is followed by the to-infinitive or by a direct object:

I would like to see the new film. [to-infinitive]

I would like a coffee. [direct object]



The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot Mr Peter.

This is not an easy one. I can't understand when I've to put the gerund and when not, I hope to learn this argument as soon as possible, I'd better go reading.

Hello, Dear Team.
Help me solve this problem, please.
1. 'Help' is one of some verbs are followed by the to-infinitive.
For example : " I'll help you to finish it".
2. 'Help' is one of any verbs are followed by the bare infinitive (without 'to').
For example : " Help me carry my shoes".
So when I have to decide to use a verb 'Help' with the first explanation and the second explanation above?
Would you like to explain, please?
Thank you in advance.