Gerund or infinitive?


There are often questions about the difference in use between the gerund and infinitive. I attach a piece I wrote some time ago showing the different uses, which may prove useful to someone:
Gerund or infinitive: ‘to fly or not to fly’


Hello Alan,

I have a good friend here in the Forum who wrote this to me in an email :

“I am really sorry for the inconveniences you’ve gone through and if you ask me you are better off having nothing to do with this site anymore. The Spam robbed you of your peace of mind, forget them and enjoy your life. There are other options available for improving your English though you definitely won’t need them.”

But I want to stay here. Unfortunately I am very loyal type, I balance what happened and at last I am attached to the well-tried course. What is the guarantee that another one could be better?

For example here is a good occasion to look over what I know the Verbs with gerund or infinitive.

I know there are verbs what I can use with a gerund or an infinitive but their meanings become different. Let me say some examples:

1. part

1. STOP (v)

a.)He stopped speaking.
b.)He stopped to speak to him.

2. MEAN (v)

a.) It means moving to another town.
b.)I didn’t mean to hurt you.


a.)I remember meeting the queen when I was 5.
I don’t remember switching of the light.
b.) Did you remember to switch off the TV?

4. FORGET (v)

a.) Did you really forget meeting him.
b.) I forgot to meet him at the station.

5. REGRET (v)

a.) I regret going to the reception.
I regret saying what I said.
b.)We regret to inform you that your application has been refused.
I regret to (to have to) day this.

6. DREAD (v)

1.)I dread going to the dentist.
2.)I dread to think what might happened.

7. [b]BE SORRY /b

1.) I was sorry for being so rude yesterday.
2.)I was sorry to hear that your son hadn’t been admitted to university.

8. TRY (v)

1.)I tried driving at a speed of 250 kph. It was terrifying.
I tried pushing the red button to start the machine, but it didn’t work that way .
2.)I tried to reach 250 kph, but the car couldn’t run faster than 220 kph.
I tried to push the red button but I couldn’t because it got stuck.

9. [b]GO ON /b

1.)He looked up for a moment then went on writing the letter.
2.)First he talked about the agriculture, then he went on to talk about the industry.

10. NEED (v)

1.)The flat needs cleaning.
The flat wants cleaning.
2.)I need to clean the flat.
I want to clean the flat.


1.)I’m interested in reading.
2.)I was interested to hear what had happened.

1.)The Gerund is useful, it can express both complete and incomplete action.
2.) The infinitive is useful when we want to emphasise that the action is complete.

Hello Alan, I took the examples from a Hungarian-English Grammar book. I would be grateful if I’ve made some mistakes please to correct them.Many thanks.

Best regards:
Kati Svaby

Hi Kati.

I have had a look at your examples and have singled out those that need correcting by suggesting alternatives in capital letters:

PS Glad you have decided to stay. We certainly need enthusiam on this site.



4 verbs you can use either infinitive or gerund without any difference in meaning.:

1.I began to work = I began working.
Exception: I am beginning to understand/see/realize why he acted as he did.
2. He started to laugh.= He started laughing.
3.He continued to live above the shop. = He continued living above the shop.
4. She never ceased complaining/ to complain about the prices.

After 3 verbs

gerunds are possible but infinitive are more common:

1.Don’t attempt to do it by yourself. -more usual than 'Don’t attempt doing it…
2.He can’t bear to be laughed at. or He can’t bear being laughed at.
3.I don’t intend to stay long. or I can’t intend staying long.
4 verbs if the person concerned to mentioned we use infinitive.

  • if the person concerned is mentioned we use infinitive

1.He advised me to apply at once.
2.She recommends houswives to buy the big tins.
3.They don’t allow us to park here.
4. Permit me to offer you some advice.


If you person is not mentioned, the gerund is used:
1.He advised applying at once.
2.She recommends buying the big tins.
3. They don’t allow parking.
4. Permit offering you some advice.

If we want an allow/permit+object+verb we must use the infinitive.
-They allowed their tenants to use the garage.
-Cash machines permit you to withdraw money any time.

can be followed either by the gerund or by the passive infinitive, the gerund being more usual.
-This shirt needs washing. or this shirt needs to wash.
-The grass wants cutting. or The grass wants to be cut.
-Lentils do not require soaking before cooking. or Lentils do not require to soak before cooking.
-The plant wants watering daily or The plant wants to be watered daily


Verbs followed by gerund

1. admit = to agree sth unwillingly that is true.
-He admitted taking the money.
-He admitted to having stolen the car…(admit to+ gerund is also possible.)
-She admits to being strict with the children.

2.anticipate = a.)to expect sth;b.) to think with pleasure that about sth that is going to happen
a.)They anticipate moving to bigger premises by the end of the year.
b.)I don’t anticipate meeting any opposition.

3.appreciate(requires a possessive adjective)
-I appreciate your giving me so much of your time.

  1. avoid
    Try to avoid making him angry.

  2. consider= to think about
    -We’ re considering buying a new car.

6.defer doing sth = to delay sth until a later time (lit.)
She deferred writing a report.

7.delay= make sth happen at a later time.
I delayed telling her the news, waiting for the right moments.

8.deny= to say that sth is not true.
They denied copying the information.

9. detest
I detest writing letters.

10.dislike= to not like sb/sth (see 18. also)
I dislike being away my family.

11. dread= to be very afraid of sth (see 18.also)
There are people who dreads getting old.

12.enjoy= to get pleasure from sth
Do you enjoy teaching?

13.escape= to avoid sth unpleasant or dangerous
He narrowly escaped being run over.= (drive over his body)


are not followed directly by gerund but take either possessive adjective/pronoun+gerund/ or pronoun+preposition+ gerund.

a.)- I hope you excuse me for being so late.
-Excuse my interrupting you.

b.)-Forgive my/me ringing you up so early.
-Forgive me for ringing you up so early.

c.)Pardon me for interrupting you.
Pardon my asking,but is that your husband?

d.)Nothing would prevent him/his speaking out against the injustice.
He is prevented by law from holding a licence.


18.-37.Useful verbs and expressions which can take either construction are:
18..dislike and like/ 19.. dread/ 20. fancy/21. mean/ 22.mind/ 23. involve/ 24. propose/ 25. recollect/ 26. remember/ 27. resent/ 28. save/ 29. stop/ [b] 3o..suggest/31. understand/32. approve/disapprove of /33.insist on 34.object to’s no good/use,36.there is no point in,37what’s the point of
18. He disliked me/my working late.
19. I didn’t like him taking all that credit.
20.fancy = feel like
Do you fancy going out this evening?
21.mean= have sth as a result or a likely result
This new order will mean working overtime.
22.mind -this verb is used chiefly in the interrogative anf negative:
Would you mind waiting a moment?
I don’t mind waiting.
I don’t mind living here. =I live here and don’t object to it.
I don’t mind his/him living here= He lives here and I don’t object to it.
He didn’t mind leaving home. =He left home quite happily.
He didn’t mind Ann leaving home.= Ann left home and he was quite happy about it.
Would you mind not smoking?=Please don’t smoke.
Would you mind moving your car? = Please move it.
Would you mind my moving your car? =Would you object if I moved your car?
(polite require)
Do you mind if I move it? = Would you mind my moving it?
Do you mind my moving it? (the action has already started)
23. involve = a situation involves sth.
The test involves answering questions about a photo.
The job involves me travelling all over the country.
The job involves my travelling over the country.
24. propose can be used:
He proposed travelling by helicopter.
He proposed your/ you travelling by helicopter.
He proposed that you should travel by helicopter.
25.recollect = remember sth, especially by making an effort to remember it.
I recollect him/his saying that it was dangerous.
26.remember = to have an image in your memory
Do you remember switching the lights off before we came out?
I vaguely remember hearing him come in.
I can still vividly remember my father teaching me to play the card.
27.resent= to feel bitter or angry
She bitterly resents being treated like a child.
She resented him making all the decisions. to keep sb from harm
She saved a little girl from falling into the water.
29.stop= to end or finish sth;to make sth finished
Has it stop raining yet?
He stopped doing his homework.
a.He suggested reading the instruction first.
b.She suggested his/him applying for a work permit.
c.She suggests/suggested that the letter should be sent today. (passive
with that)
d.She will suggest/suggests/is suggesting/has suggesting that you rent a house.( future/present,/present perfect/ pr.continuous +that+present v.
e.She would suggested/was suggesting/had suggested that you rented a house.
(suggest in past tense + that+ verb in past tense)
31.understand = realize what how sth.happens
-I just can understand him/his taking the money.
32.approve/disapprove of sth = I think sth is good/ sth isn’t good
–She doesn’t approve of me /my leaving the school this year.
= She disapproves of me/my leaving the school this year
33.insist on= to demand that sth happens
-Tom insisted on seeing the document. ( Tom saw it)
-He insisted on my/me reading the document. (I had to read it)

34.object to = you say you disagree with
-I really object to being charged for parking.
35.It’s no good/use = it not to be useful
-It’s no good/use trying to talk to me out of leaving.
36. there is no point in = no purpose/aim
-There is no point in getting angry.
37. What’s the point of …? =What’s the aim of…?
-What’s the point of getting angry?

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Dear Bez,

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Did they descend on me, didn’t they? What to do? I am very sorry.