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 Wed, 25/03/2020 - 21:11

Hey there,  Can U help me with this? "Quality is critical to satisfying customers"  Why not "to satisfy"?  I know the task of "to" as a proposition, but I don't know the structure,  Or  Why don't we use "for" instead of "to" (for satisfying) ?? Thanks in advance.

Hi mehransam05,

Both of these sentences are grammatical:

Quality is critical to satisfying customers.

Quality is critical to satisfy customers.

The first tells us that quality is an important element in satisfying customers.

The secnd tells us that quality is important in order to satisfy customers - it shows a causal relationship.


We can use for in a similar way to to in the first example, but it is more often used when talking about the beneficiary of the action (who it is done for):

Quality is critical to satisfying customers for our company.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by PAMARTIN on Fri, 20/03/2020 - 17:48

Hello, I don't understand the last question of the grammar test n°2. My answer is "stop + To + infinitive" because he stops an activity so that he can do something else (spanish class). But the right answer is "stop + ing". Can you explain me the answer? Thank you


We use the form [stop + to infinitive] when the second action is the cause of the first action. For example, I can say:

I stopped French classes to take Spanish lessons.

However, this would require a very specific situation. We would need to know that it was necessary for me to stop French in order to take Spanish - in other words, that it was impossible for me to take Spanish unless I first stopped French.


There is no indication of a causal connection in the sentence in the task. Rather, the sentence simply describes two actions without any direct causal connection. In other words, we have no reason to think that the person in question could not have continued both if he or she had wished. Thus, we should use [stop + verbing], which does not say whether or not the two actions are causally connected.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bharati on Sun, 23/02/2020 - 07:10

Hello, In the example "He was told about John doing the work"Here "doing"is used as gerund or participle? Secondly, What follows verb waste/spend(Gerund or participle) Example-He spends/wastes his time thinking about something. Thanks

Submitted by Bharati on Mon, 09/03/2020 - 12:35

In reply to by Bharati

Hello, May i seek the clarification sought on the above use of gerund/participle Thanks
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Mon, 09/03/2020 - 13:03

In reply to by Bharati


Hello Bharati

I would call them gerunds.

Please remember that we are here to help people learn to use English, not for specialist grammatical analysis. In other words, questions like this one are more appropriate on another website -- for example, the English Language and Usage StackExchange -- though even there you might find that not everyone wants to entertain this sort of question. This is because the difference between gerunds and participles comes from Latin grammar; in more recent grammars based on linguistics, the distinction is not made. If you read the Wikipedia Gerund article, you can find out more about this.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team