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

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Hello Cindylin00000,

The word 'key' is not a verb, but rather a noun that can be followed by the preposition 'to'. Prepositions are followed by nouns, and so we use the '-ing' form of a verb (which can be used like a noun) if the word or phrase after 'to' begins with a verb.

For example, we can say 'the key to success' -- 'success' is a noun and so can go directly after 'to' with no change in form. But in your example, 'get' is a verb and so it must change to the 'getting' form.

A similar phrase is 'look forward to'. In this case, 'look forward' is the verb and 'to' is a preposition. This is why we say 'I look forward to seeing you' and not *'I look forward to see you'.

I hope this helps you understand this better.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

"getting" here means a noun (made from a verb). "Getting a good grade" means the act of the fact consisting in that you are successful in the goal you proposed.
So, I think it would be almost equivalent to say "the key to getting a good grade", or "the key to get a good grade". But, the former reveals a higher level of comprehension of the English language.

Submitted by RANDRIANOELIARISON on Tue, 14/06/2022 - 20:18


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,
The LearnEnglish Team


I've read that with the 'to be' verb, adverbs usually come after the verb. So, it had to be instead: "You aren't really sure whether/about ...."

Am I correct?

Hello YoelMonsalve,

The position of adverbs is quite flexible in general. It's true that adverbs generally come after 'to be', but when the adverb is emphasised, it usually comes before. In the examples above, it could certainly be a case of emphasis.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by vincentbitok on Sun, 01/05/2022 - 16:56


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.

Submitted by HieuNT on Wed, 09/03/2022 - 12:17


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).

> 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.