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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Submitted by mehransam05 on Mon, 29/03/2021 - 17:53

Dear team, Where "to" is used as a A)proposition B)sign of infinitive Thanks in advance.
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Tue, 30/03/2021 - 04:07

In reply to by mehransam05


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 :)


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.


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Natasa Tanasa on Tue, 02/02/2021 - 16:56

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.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rosario70 on Sun, 31/01/2021 - 11:24

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.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gloria Pérez on Wed, 20/01/2021 - 12:40

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!
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Thu, 21/01/2021 - 09:10

In reply to by Gloria Pérez


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,


The LearnEnglish Team