Understanding Gerunds and Infinitives in English Grammar:

Discover the intricacies of gerunds and infinitives in English grammar with EnglishHive's comprehensive lesson. Understand the difference between 'I enjoy walking' and 'I love to walk', and learn how to use gerunds and infinitives effectively. Dive into the basics, usage in sentences, and tips for choosing between them. Enhance your grammar skills and widen your vocabulary today!

Understanding Gerunds and Infinitives in English Grammar:


Hello lovely students and welcome back to EnglishHive. Today, I have a grammar lesson for you. We're going to conquer a mistake that I hear made all the time. Why do we say "I enjoy walking" but also "I love to walk"? Why can't we say "I enjoy to walk"? Why do we say "I plan to come" but not "I plan coming"? It's all about gerunds and infinitives, and it's a tough subject. But we're going to cover everything today, and you will leave this lesson with a much better understanding and a slightly wider vocabulary.

The Basics: Gerunds and Infinitives

Let's get started with the lesson. We're going to take a look at how we can change verbs into verbal nouns called gerunds and infinitives, and how we can use these grammar tools effectively. Firstly, let's talk about gerunds. What on earth is a gerund? It's not as complicated as it sounds. It's a verb that ends in -ing and acts as a noun. For example, we can take the base verb "walk," add -ing, and it makes "walking." Walking is our gerund. And if we make a sentence using this gerund, walking is our subject. Now, not every verb ending in -ing is a gerund. Take a look at the progressive tenses or the continuous tenses. They use a "be" verb and the present participle, which is like a gerund. This adds -ing to a base verb. For example, "I am eating," "She is talking."

Using Gerunds and Infinitives

So how do we know if a verb ending in -ing is a present participle or a gerund? Gerunds always act as nouns or noun phrases, never as a verb. Jenny enjoys walking. Walking is acting as the object of this sentence. What does Jenny enjoy? Walking. In the second sentence, "Jenny is walking right now," walking is acting as the verb or part of the verb. She is walking. So, gerunds always act as nouns, while present participles act as verbs or parts of verbs.

Now, let's move on to infinitives. Infinitives are the simplest form of a verb. To make an infinitive, we simply place "to" in front of the base verb. Infinitives are sometimes called "to infinitives." For example, the base verb "walk" becomes "to walk" in a sentence, "She expected to walk right in."

Using Gerunds and Infinitives as Objects

Let's start looking at how we use gerunds and infinitives in similar situations. Firstly, let's look at them as objects of a sentence. The basic form of a sentence in English is subject plus verb plus object. When a gerund comes before the main verb in a sentence, it will act as the subject of that sentence. For example, "Walking always puts me in a good mood." Walking is the subject of that sentence. I can replace "walking" with a noun, and the subject will still make sense. "Harry Potter always puts me in a good mood."

Using infinitives as the subject of a sentence is slightly different. When we use an infinitive as the subject a sentence, it can sound extremely formal, almost like you're writing in the style of Shakespeare. It can sound quite fancy. For example, "Singing gives me great pleasure." But if I say "To sing gives me great pleasure," it doesn't sound wrong, it just sounds really formal, posh, and slightly old-fashioned. However, there are exceptions, and we do use infinitives as the subject of sentences when giving instructions, directions, quoting someone, or giving a dictionary definition.

Using Gerunds and Infinitives with Certain Verbs

Now, let's talk about using gerunds or infinitives after certain verbs. Some verbs allow you to use either a gerund or an infinitive after them. For example, "She hates sleeping late" or "She hates to sleep late." Both work beautifully. We prefer eating at home or we prefer to eat at home. They started working on the project at school or they started to work on the project at school. These verbs allow the use of both gerunds and infinitives.

However, there are some verbs that only allow gerunds to follow, and there are some verbs that only infinitives to follow. Let's take a look at the verbs that allow gerunds. They are "consider," "deny," "enjoy," "imagine," and "suggest." When we add gerunds to these sentences, they function as direct objects. For example, "He considered moving to Spain last year." "Jack denied cheating on his test." "Wendy enjoys watching movies at weekends." "We imagined waking up to a beautiful sunrise." "Dan suggested bringing home a rescue dog."

We can also use the verb "go" plus a gerund when we're talking about hobbies or recreational activities. For example, "go hiking," "go shopping," "going swimming," "going fishing," "went sightseeing," "went snorkeling," and many more. We can also use gerunds as the object of prepositions, meaning we use them after a preposition. Some common prepositions used with gerunds are "before," "by," "since," and "except." For example, "Before completing university, he already had many job offers." "By getting up early, I'm ready for my morning runs." "Since I have been thinking of him non-stop since meeting him." "Except, he hates all forms of creative expression except writing." "We decided to take a trip without planning." "After recovering from his injury, Will retired from rugby."

Now let's move on to using infinitives. Just like with gerunds, infinitives follow certain verbs. In these sentences, the infinitives will act as the direct object of the verbs. Some examples of these verbs are "agree," "demand," "manage," "plan," and "want." For example, "We agreed to never speak to each other again." "They demanded to change their flight." "He managed to sell his house after only three days on the market." "She's planning to quit her job after returning from holiday." "Ben wants to travel to London by train."

We also use infinitives after certain verb and object combinations. The sentence pattern will be subject plus verb plus object plus infinitive. For example, "They asked us to help with the washing up." "She told him to bring home dog food." "He encouraged her to follow her dreams."

We can also use infinitives after adjectives. For example, "He was happy to include her in the new project at work." "They were sad to leave the island at the end of the holiday." "We are pleased to welcome you into our home."

Tips for Choosing Between Gerunds and Infinitives

If you are still unsure about when to use a gerund or when to use an infinitive, I have a little trick that may help you. In general, if the first action leads to a second action, then we use an infinitive. For example, "He wants to eat pizza for dinner." If the first action is happening at the same time as the second action, then we use a gerund. For example, "He eating pizza for dinner."


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That's all from me. I hope you enjoyed this lesson and found it helpful. See you soon for another lesson!

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