Gerunds and Infinitives


If you know your Gerund and Infinitive Grammar properly you will gain quite a few marks in any test.

This is one of the big issues tested in all exams so give it some time and effort. When you are studying try to look out for verbs that you might use in your exam writing and make a point of remembering examples that you can use in different types of task.

What’s the problem with Gerunds and Infinitives?

* You have to learn which verbs are followed by Gerunds and which ones by Infinitives.

* To make matters worse, some verbs can be followed by a Gerund or an Infinitive – BUT the meaning changes in each case (pay special attention to these – examiners love them!)

* Some verbs can be followed by a Gerund or an Infinitive and it doesn’t make much difference

* As with present participles, you need to watch out for the spelling of Gerunds

* It’s important to understand and be able to recognise whether an “ing” word in a sentence is really a Gerund. It could be a Present Participle or an Adjective.

* Prepositions can only be followed by a Gerund, never an Infinitive

* One of the things you will never forget after studying this grammar topic is that a key to success in studying English is to always notice what happens before or after a word and how different words (like prepositions as well as gerunds or infinitives) can change the meaning of the word they follow. That’s why it is important to learn vocabulary in sample phrases that you repeat to yourself until they are really familiar. It is also very important to make up your own sentences using the words and phrases that you learn.

* To sum up, to master Gerund and Infinitive Grammar you have to learn:

1. What they are

2. When to use one or the other

3. Which verbs go with one or the other (a big job) plus how the meaning changes in some cases if you use one or the other.,

4. How to recognise them as different to other similar grammar forms.

Getting Started

Before you start though, it’s best to have a look at the following lists so that you have an idea of what you are dealing with. Make sure you know the verbs and their meanings. You can learn them properly later but you will understand the tutorials better and have more success with the exercises if you have had a look at these lists first.

Which Verbs take which form?

These are the most essential verbs that everyone should know and be able to recognise whether they need a gerund or infinitive. Use one of the resources on the Dictionaries page to make yourself a test to remember them. It’s a good idea to study +Gerund words one day and +Infinitive words on another so that you avoid confusing them.

Main verbs followed by Gerund

admit, appreciate, avoid, carry on, consider, defer, delay, deny, detest, dislike, endure, enjoy, escape, excuse, face, feel like, finish, forgive, give up, can’t help, imagine, involve, leave off, mention, mind, miss, postpone, practise, put off, report, resent, risk, can’t stand, suggest, understand


If you are having a problem understanding anything here use PopUp Dictionary the best desktop dictionary to quickly find any word you select. Get a free download of PopUp Dictionary


Main verbs followed by Infinitive

– forget, help, learn, teach, train
– choose, expect, hope, need, offer, want, would like
– agree, encourage, pretend, promise, recommend
– allow, can/can’t afford, decide, manage, mean, refuse

Look at the two lists. Do the verbs in each have anything in common that will help you remember them?

OK, now you have an idea of what you are trying to do and a few of the vocabulary tools you need to work with the examples and exercises. Now you can start to study the explanations and try some exercises.


These are given in order of difficulty. Gerunds and Infinitives are something that you need to study several times if you are going to succeed in learning all the different variations. You can use these different web tutorials so that it is not too boring to study them repeatedly. By doing several different tutorials you will also learn lots of the verbs much more easily. It’s better than just sitting and learning lists!


Start here!

Gerund Spelling rules – the same as for any other –ing form.

What is a Gerund? A look at the –ing form of verbs comparing Gerunds and Participles.

English Club

A series of explanations and exercises.

The website above takes you through the key points one step at a time. But here are some of the less known points to remember.

You can’t put an infinitive after a Gerund:

After need, want and require Gerunds have a Passive Sense


The difference between Gerunds and Infinitives


Another good page with explanations and exercises.

Nice and clear. Well organised click-through lists of different types.

English Page Tutorial

Really in-depth tutorial with explanations, full lists of verbs, lots of exercises and a test. Advanced students will benefit from doing this thoroughly (lots of marks to be gained!)


These are a good starter selection from some grammar sites. All the explanation sites have plenty however.

Try to do and Try doing (ECCE people – good for advice letters!)

Flash Quiz




4 thoughts on “Gerunds and Infinitives

  1. Thank you! I really needed a easy, clear cut distinction between the two for my ESL students and your website really helped!!

  2. Thanks for letting me know I’ve helped S&S…get them learning those two lists of words really well because examiners really love them!

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