GERUNDS VS. INFINITIVES
A gerund is a verb ending with –ing that functions like a noun. Gerunds can be used as subjects, direct objects, subject complements, and as objects of a preposition.
Running is fun. (Gerund as subject)
I love running. (Gerund as direct object)
I never gave running a thought. (Gerund as indirect object)
Do you object to running? (Gerund as object of preposition)
We often use to + infinitive after certain verbs, especially thinking and feeling verbs. They have lots of other uses including being used to show purpose, after certain adjectives, to give opinions and more.
We’ll focus on gerunds and infinitives being used after certain verbs because most books compare gerunds and infinitives in this way. Just keep in mind that gerunds can be used in other places instead of nouns and infinitives have other uses as well.
When gerunds are used after a verb, they can only follow certain verbs. Other verbs need the infinitive (to + verb). Still other verbs can use both gerunds and infinitives.
I enjoy walking. (enjoy = gerunds not infinitives)
He attempted to run. (attempt = infinitives not gerunds)
She hates running. (hate = gerund or infinitives)
She hates to run.
Some verbs such as stop, remember, forget, and try change meaning depending on whether a gerund or infinitive is used.
Some verbs can take a direct object and an infinitive. The structure looks like: verb + direct object + to + infinitive.
She invited me to go to the dance.
We can use make, let, and help with the above structure but without the ‘to’.
He helped me finish my homework.
Not every verb ending in –ing is a gerund. A verb ending with –ing can also be a present participle.
*The following questions attempt to elicit gerunds. The verbs used in the questions can take gerunds but not infinitives as direct objects.*
*The next set of questions after the gerunds attempts to elicit only infinitives. The verbs used in those questions can take infinitives but not gerunds.*
- What’s something you avoid doing?
- Is there something you’re considering doing? What is it?
- What are some activities you dislike?
- What type of exercise do you hate?
- What kinds of activities does your job or studies involve?
- What housework do you not mind doing?
- Is there anything you keep doing even though you know you shouldn’t?
- What are some high school activities you miss doing?
- What activities do you recommend to stay healthy?
- What’s an activity you practice every week?
- Do you think that playing games is a worthwhile activity? Why or why not?
- What do you enjoy doing on the weekend?
- What do you delay doing until the last minute?
- What are some habits you dislike?
- What’s something you keep thinking about doing but haven’t?
- What do you plan on doing after class?
- What do you always complain about doing?
- What’s some work you choose to do even though you don’t have to do it?
- What’s something you hope to do in the future?
- What’s something you always forget to do?
- What do you want to do after class?
- What do you tend to do when you’re sad?
- What’s something you tried to do but failed at?
- Is there anything you refuse to eat?
- Where do you plan to go on your next vacation?
- Have you ever vowed to do something?
- Is there anything you’re striving to do?
- Where are some places you want to go on vacation?
- Do you ever pretend to work? Why?
- What do you tend to do when it’s raining?
- What’s something you’re yearning to do?
- What do you want to do this weekend?
- What are some crazy things you’ve tried to do?
- What’s the next big project you plan to do?
- What are some things you’re glad you agreed to do?