GERUNDS AND INFINITIVES
We use the gerund or the infinitive when we want to link two actions. Sometimes we will have to use the gerund, sometimes we will have to use the infinitive and sometimes we will be able to use any of them.
In English, gerunds are nouns formed by adding –ing to the verb. (The rules to follow when adding –ing are the same used to form the Present Continuous).
With these features, the gerund has some of the characteristics of nouns and some of the characteristics of verbs, and that is why gerunds have the following uses:
- As the subject of a sentence when we talk about actions in general:
Smoking is bad for your health.
- After prepositions:
He is interested in collecting stamps.
- After certain expressions:
- there’s no use
- look forward to
- can’t help
- can’t stand
- be worth
- give up
- put off
- feel like
- be used to
- get used to
- would mind
That car isn’t worth buying.
- As a complement of certain verbs:
They enjoyed watching the film.
The infinitive is formed by two words: TO + the base form of the verb (to go, to see, to do, to play, etc).
It is used in the following cases:
- As the subject of a sentence when it refers to a concrete action:
To leave now would be a mistake.
- After certain adjectives and adverbs:
Daniel will be ready to help us soon.
- After the only, the last, the first, the second, etc.
My father is always the first to get up.
- With interrogative pronouns. All of them can be followed by to + infinitive except for why which is followed by infinitive without to:
I don’t know what to say.
- After certain nouns:
She hurt her leg but made an attempt to finish the race.
- After certain expressions:
- make up (your) mind
- do (your) best
- be up to (you)
- leave it up to (you)
- turn out
- be about
We are about to leave, so hurry up.
- After certain verbs:
He agreed to meet us tonight.
- After some verbs followed by a noun or a pronoun. The noun or the pronoun will function as an indirect complement and the infinitive will be the direct object of the main verb.
They advised Tom to take a taxi.
ERROR COMÚN: I want that you stay here.
- Some verbs of perception (hear, feel, see…), make and let use the infinitive without to:
I saw Eric leave the office.
VERBS FOLLOWED BY GERUNDS OR INFINITIVES WITHOUT A CHANGE OF MEANING.
Some verbs can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive without a change of the meaning of the sentence:
- can’t bear
- advise, allow, permit and recommend: If they have an indirect complement, the infinitve must be used:
I advised him to see a doctor.
VERBS FOLLOWED BY GERUNDS OR INFINITIVES WITH A CHANGE OF MEANING.
Some verbs might be followed by a gerund or an infinitive but the meaning of the sentence will be different in each case:
o When followed by a gerund, it means “dejar un hábito”:
She stopped eating chocolate last year.
o When followed by an infinitive, it means “dejar de hacer algo para hacer otra cosa”:
He stopped to eat some chocolate.
o When followed by a gerund it usually occurs in negative sentences denoting the impossibility of forgetting something from the past:
I will never forget visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
o When followed by an infinitive it means “olvidarse de hacer algo”:
Oliver forgot to bring his lunch.
o When followed by a gerund it means “lamenter haber hecho algo en el pasado”
I regret telling her so much about myself.
o When followed by an infinitive it means “lamenter lo que se va a decir a continuación”:
I regret to tell you that you have failed your exam.
o When followed by a gerund it means “recordar algo que se hizo en el pasado”:
I remember talking to him about the subject.
o When followed by an infinitive it means “acordarse de hacer algo”:
Remember to take your passport.
o When followed by a gerund it means “probar a hacer algo como medio de conseguir un fin”
I tried using the new method, but it didn’t work.
o When followed by an infinitive it means “tratar de conseguir algo hacienda un esfuerzo”:
Errol tried to pass his driving test.