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NAVIGATE:   Learn English - Course Index Page
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Unit 39: - Gerunds & Infinitives: Distinct Difference in Meaning

Gerunds and Infinitives: Distinct difference in meaning

These verbs can be followed by gerunds or infinitives but with a change in meaning.

forget / regret / remember

When these verbs are used with a gerund they refer to something that happened before a certain time. When they are used with an infinitive they refer to something that happens at or after a certain time.


Forget with the gerund is often used with never for a memorable previous action.
- I'll never forget going to Japan.

Forget with the infinitive means something happens at or after a certain time.
- Don't forget to meet me at 5.00.


Regret with the gerund refers to a previous action.
- I don't regret leaving my job.

Regret with the infinitive is used to give bad news in a formal, polite way. It's often used with the verbs to say, to announce, to tell you and to inform you.
- We regret to inform you the interview is cancelled.


Remember with the gerund refers to a previous action.
- I remember meeting you last year. (I met you before now).

Remember with the infinitive is used for something that happens at or after a certain time.
- Please remember to close the door. (in the future please close the door.)

go on

Go on with the gerund means to continue an action in progress. For example:
- I want to go on studying here.

Go on with the infinitive means to do something new. For example:
- After university, he went on to study law.


mean with the gerund shows negative consequence. For example:
- You can buy a new car, but it means spending a lot of money.

mean with the infinitive shows intention.
- He means to leave his job next month.
- I didn't mean to make you angry.


Try with the gerund is used for suggestions.
- "I need to lose weight." "Try exercising and eating healthy food".
- "I'm really hot." "Try sitting here, it's much cooler."

Try with the infinitive means to attempt something.
- I tried to lift it but I can't.
- I'll try to finish this by tomorrow morning.


stop with the gerund means to end an action.
- I stopped eating fast food last year.
- I can't stop loving you.
- Stop being so annoying!

stop with the infinitive means to interrupt an action.
- I was walking to the subway station, and I stopped to say "Hi" to my friends.
- I was working at home, and I stopped to answer the 'phone.


come with the gerund means movement with a sense of surprise or excitement.
- The ball came flying toward me - it almosty hit me on the head!
- Don't come running to me! (this means don't expect sympathy)

come with the infinitive means a change in perception.
- I thought he wasn't smart, but I came to realize he's very talented.
- I didn't like teaching, but I came to like it.
come with the infinitive can also mean just reason.
- Why did you come? - I came to watch a movie.


help is often used with an infinitive.
- I helped to make dinner.
help is also used without to, especially in American conversational English.
- I helped make the dinner.
help is also used with with and the gerund.
- I helped with making the dinner.
These three usages have similar meanings.

Help with the gerund is also used with can't to mean a reaction beyond the subject's control.
- I can't help laughing.
- Those kids are noisy, but I can't help liking them.


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