Verbs followed by '-ing' or by 'to' + infinitive 2

Do you know the difference between stop doing something and stop to do something?

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

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

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/forget

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

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Hello! I have a question please!
What is the correct form of these sentences:
- That means to leave for somewhere far from your parents. OR
- That means leaving for somewhere far from your parents.
- You really aren't sure wether to marry him or not. OR
- You really aren't sure wether marrying him or not.
- I feel the best thing for you would be waiting. OR
- I feel the best thing for you would be to wait.
- you're having a hard time deciding what to do. OR
- you're having a hard time to decide what to do.

Is there is any rule or not?
Thanks in advance!

Hello Randrianoeliarison,

The correct ones are:

  1. That means leaving for somewhere far from your parents.
  2. You really aren't sure whether to marry him or not.
  3. I feel the best thing for you would be to wait.
  4. You're having a hard time deciding what to do.

In 1, the phrase 'leaving for somewhere far from your parents' is a noun phrase that is the complement of 'That means'. The '-ing' form can be used to turn a verb into a noun phrase.

In 2, 'whether' is usually followed by a clause or an infinitive -- in this case, of course, it's an infinitive.

In 3, the basic phrase here is 'the best thing to do'. In other words, we use an infinitive after a phrase like 'the best thing'.

In 4, the basic phrase is 'to have a hard time doing something', i.e. we use an '-ing' form after the phrase 'to have a hard time'.

As you can see the rules are generally dependent on how the verb form fits into the structure of the sentence, so I'm afraid there's no more general rule than that.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

I would like to register and do the B2 exam to enable me apply for a UK visa. How do I go about it and how much does it cost in Kenya.

Hi vincentbitok,

Thanks for your enquiry. We don't have that information here on this website, but I suggest you contact British Council Kenya as they will have the information that you need. Here are their contact details: https://www.britishcouncil.co.ke/about/contact

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

I often see the verb 'intend' followed by an infinitive. Interestingly, today I've found out that it could also be followed by a gerund (-ing form).

E.g.:
> I don't intend seeing him again.
> We didn't intend having any children.

Is there any difference in meaning with "intend" followed by an infinitive or a gerund, like in the case of those verbs in this lesson?

Thank you.

Hello HieuNT,

It may be possible in some dialects or variants of English but to me as a British English native speaker the -ing form does not sound correct. I would use 'to infinitive' in all contexts.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I am a Native American speaker who stumbled on this while preparing lessons. I agree that the above example don't sound correct. However, it would be normal for an American to say, "I don't intend on seeing him again" and "We didn't intend on having any children. So if we use the gerund instead of the infinite we add a preposition.

Hi, It'll be great help if you could help me with these two (causitive)sentences below:
* He'll have you doing his house chores.
Can I use "do" instead of doing ?
*I'll be happy to have you come with me.
Is it correct?if yes,does it give any sense of forcing that person (you)?
Thanks!

Hello neha8626,

In the first sentence, yes, you can say 'do' instead of 'doing', though it would change the meaning slightly. In fact, 'do' is the form to use in general; if you say 'doing', it has a more specific meaning. What exactly that specific meaning is depends on the context, but, for example, it could be that it refers to the person doing the chores regularly in that situation.

The second sentence is also correct, but I wouldn't call it a causative. As you seem to guess, it doesn't imply that you're forcing the person to come. Instead, 'have' means something more like 'experience' -- something like 'I'll be happy to have the experience of you coming with me'. Most of the time, people will just say 'I'll be happy for you to come with me' (or 'if you come with me'), but it's also fine to say it with 'have' as you suggest.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
Thanks for your reply! I was recently learning the uses of causative verbs have and get, using the help of Cambridge dictionary.Here's what I found, which is quite confusing for me.
* The film soon had us crying.
*Gus will have it working in no time.
*I'll have somone collect it for you.
Could you please help me understand when to use V1 and V1+ing with have?
Thanks!

Hello neha8626,

As I mentioned in my last comment, it's quite difficult to explain this difference without a context. But in general the V1+ing form expresses the idea that the action is ongoing or temporary instead of completed.

The first sentence thus suggests that there were many moments in the film that caused the people to cry.

The second sentence is a bit different to my eyes, as in this context, 'working' is an adjective rather than a noun (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/working) -- it means that the machine operates correctly.

The action of collecting something doesn't usually suggest the idea of a temporary or ongoing action and so unless there was a very specific context where it would make sense, a V+ing form would be odd here.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,

Could you please explain which one of the following sentences is correct and also mention the reasoning behind it .
Try watching video with subtitles.
Try to watch video with subtitles.

Hello sara123_123,

We use [try + verb-ing] when we are experimenting to see if something is helpful or not.

We use [try + to verb] when we are not sure if the action will succeed or not.

For example:
1) It was very hot in the room. I tried opening the window but it didn't help.
> In this example, the goal is to cool the room; opening the window is a method we try to achieve this.

2) The house was very old. I tried to open the window but the lock was rusted and I couldn't.
> In this example opening the window is the goal.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Could you please help me? Which sentence is correct or both? Why?
1- If you want to stay healthy, you should try to do more exercise.
2- If you want to stay healthy, you should try doing more exercise.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Both sentences are correct.

The verb 'try' can be followed by either an <-ing form> or <to infinitive>. However, there is a difference in meaning.

Try + to verb means 'attempt':
~ I tried (attempted) to open the window.
In this sentence we don't know if the speaker succeeded in opening the window or not.

Try + -ing means 'experiment to see if something is a good idea':
~ I tried talking to her.
In this sentence we know that the speaker talked to her. The question is whether or not talking was a good idea or a mistake.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear team, Where "to" is used as a A)proposition B)sign of infinitive Thanks in advance.

Hi mehransam05,

When to is a preposition, it introduces a noun, pronoun or -ing form verb. For example:

  • Let's go to the supermarket. ('the supermarket' = noun)
  • He passed the ball to me. ('me' = pronoun)
  • I'm looking forward to seeing you. ('seeing' = -ing form verb)

When to is part of the infinitive, it introduces a verb in the infinitive. For example:

  • I went to the shop to buy bread.
  • To get a certificate, you need to attend all the lessons.
  • I'd like to speak to the manager.

I hope that helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for your response, but I don't know which verbs are followed by "to" as a proposition, for example "accustomed to + ing form" To find these verbs and adjectives while speaking is sometimes difficult. We often prefer to use "to" as a part of infinitive without thinking about the conception of the whole sentence. I need a rule or a structure to rely on. Thanks

Hi mehransam05,

I see. Unfortunately, this is an area of grammar which doesn't really have clear and logical rules. Although all verbs and adjectives which require the preposition to do have something in common, which is the underlying meaning of the word to (i.e., movement in a certain direction), this doesn't really help us to predict which verbs/adjectives require to and which ones require a different preposition. There are some general patterns which you may find helpful - have a look at this Cambridge Dictionary page, for example. But apart from that, the best approach is to make a note of the preposition when you learn a verb/adjective.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everyone! I would like to know the difference between the next sentences: 1. It started to rain. / It started raining. 2. I regret buying.... / I regret to buy... Thank you in advance!! :) Best regard, Natasa

Hello Natasa Tanasa,

Some verbs can be followed with either an infinitive or a gerund without any change in meaning. Start is one of these, so the two sentences in your first point are interchangeable.

 

Other verbs change meaning depending on whether they are followed by an infinitive or a gerund. Regret is one of these.

regret + verb-ing describes a past action which you feel bad about:

I regret buying it = I bought it and it was a bad idea

regret + to verb is used in formal expressions to apologise for an unfortunate situation:

We regret to tell you that your ticket is no longer valid = unfortunately, you can't use the ticket

I can't think of a context in which you might use regret to buy, however. This is really about the meaning of 'buy' rather than the grammar, of course.

 

Some other common verbs which change their meaning with infinitives and gerunds are remember, forget, go on, advise, allow, permit, forbid, see, watch, hear, try, like, love, hate, mean, learn, teach and stop.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi to everyone, yesterday i heard this sentence : once you are finished clearing security....... i am wondering if clearing stands for a noun o ing form, if it is a noun i could say like this: Once you are finished with the clearing security..... TIA

Hi rosario70,

The word 'clearing' here is a participle and not a noun, so no article is used.

The form is finish + verb-ing.

There are many verbs like this: start, continue and stop, for example.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk, Some days ago I wrote you in relation with a doubt on the possible verb patterns used with the verbs to recommend, to suggest and to advice. However, I have not seen my question published. I'm now wondering whether I may have made a mistake when posting the question (although I'm quite sure that when I save it I read the usual message that my question had been correctly sent and awaiting to be reviewed before publishing) or whetehr the doubt was falling out of a B1 level scope and therefore not published. THANK you very much Kirk!

Hello Gloria,

Is the comment you mean this one (on 'can' and 'could')? If that's the one you mean, it looks as though you posted it on a different page than you remembered. As you'll see, I responded to that comment on that page.

If that's not the right question, then you're welcome to post it again here.

Best wishes,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everyone! I have a little doubt about the use of forget + ing and forget + to + infinitive. In an exam I had to complete the following phrase: "Oh no! I forgot ___ tickets for the concert!" (buy) I filled the gap with "to buy" but my teacher claims that I am wrong and the actual answer is "buying" because the action happened in the past. I thought that made no sense so I checked some online english pages and they all seem to agree with me, so I'm really confused. What is the correct answer?

Hi MascaChapas27,

I agree with your answer. It's true that forgot refers to the past. But the meaning that makes most sense in this sentence is that I needed to buy tickets, but I forgot to do that (i.e. I didn't actually buy the tickets) and then I suddenly realised (Oh no!).

If we say I forgot buying ... , that means I did buy the tickets, but I forgot that I bought them. It's grammatically possible, but the situation seems less likely.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello mr.yashar,

If we take the verb 'do' as an example, the passive form of the gerund is 'being done' and the passive form of the infinitive is 'to be done'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi team, I am confused about this sentence which is in my book''Bazaars selling food of their cities.'' How we can use just -selling- without'to be'. I haven't known yet?

Hello Yigido,

Is it perhaps the title of an article? Often words are left out in titles of newspaper articles, for example, where space is limited. We'd need to know a little more about the context to say much more.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir, Where can I find expert level (C1- C2) lessons here on BritishCouncil website?

Hi Chekytan,

We don't have resources at C2 level at the moment, but you can find C1 resources by typing 'C1' in the search bar.

You may like to try the Skills sections, which all have resources at C1 level.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Walking is good for health. It is said that GERUND is a verbal noun and it has the force of a VERB and a NOUN. In the above sentence WALKING acts as a noun because it is the subject of the verb IS. So, in this case it has the force of a noun, but how does it has the force of a VERB? Reading books is my hobby. In the above sentence, Reading has an object. Thus, Reading has the force of a verb. Moreover, Reading is also the subject of the sentence. Hence, it has the force of a noun as well. In such case it is easy to understand, but what if gerund has not any object and it has been alone as subject? In such case, How to teach that it has both forces i.e., a noun and a verb?

Hello Nehashri,

Gerunds behave as verbs within the clause, so they can take an object or be modified by an adverb, but the clause as a whole (which could be just the gerund or could contain more words) functions as a noun within the sentence.

In your second example, Reading books is a non-finite clause where the gerund is followed by an object (a verbal property). The non-finite clause is the subject (a nominal property) in the larger sentence.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

The second sentence tells us that he or she likes to organise their day to include porridge for break
Hello: I just came across this headline in a local English language newspaper: Fixing banking sector key to blunting coronavirus shock. Why is there blunt + ing form after the 'infinitive to' in the headline? Is it correct? Could you please explain? Thanks

Hello zahid51,

To can be part of an infinitive, but it can also be a preposition and in your example it is the latter. We call this a dependent preposition because it is attached to the adjective key. Prepositions are followed by objects, which are often nouns or gerunds. Here, blunting is a gerund - a verbal noun.

Writing the headline out in full might help to make it clearer:

Fixing the banking sector will be key to blunting the coronavirus shock.

 

You can read more about prepositions and adjectives, and see more examples, here:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/beginner-to-pre-intermediate/adjectives-and-prepositions

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello 83roman,

Go on can be followed by either the to-infinitive or by an -ing form, but the meaning is different:

 

go on + to-infinitive is used to describe the next step in a plan or sequence of actions:

He studied at Oxford and went on to have a successful career as a psychologist.

 

go on + -ing form is used to describe an action or situation which continues:

She was tired but she kept on walking nevertheless.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

HI! what is the difference here? I like to have the latest mobile phone. I like having the latest mobile phone. I like to watch people skiing. I like watching people skiing. thanks a bunch!

Hello fred,

Like + -ing means the same as enjoy. It tells us that we get pleasure from a particular action or state.

Like + to verb means a preference in terms of behaviour.

 

For example, we can compare these two sentences:

I like eating porridge for breakfast.

I like to eat porridge for breakfast.

The first sentence tells us that eating porridge gives the speaker pleasure. The second sentence tells us that he or she likes to organise their day to include porridge for breakfast.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team