Gerunds and Infinitives:
Verb + Gerund or Infinitive
Some verbs can be
followed by an infinitive or a gerund. These
verbs in turn can be subdivided into two groups,
verbs with little difference in meaning, and
verbs with a distinct change in meaning.
Verb + Gerund
or Infinitive: Little difference in meaning.
Here are some common
verbs that can be followed by gerunds or infinitives
with little change in meaning. A change of meaning
may still exist however, as there are almost
limitless combinations of verbs and gerunds/infinitives.
begin - She began
to sing. - He began working here last year.
bother - Don't bother to wash the dishes.
I'll do it. - Don't bother washing the
dishes. I'll do it.
continue - You can continue to live here
for 6 months. - You can continue living
here for 6 months.
start - I started to learn the clarinet
when I was 8. I started learning the
clarinet when I was 8.
love / like / hate /prefer
These four verbs
use the gerund for situations or actions in
progress. The infinitive is used for factual
- I hate working at my new job (I'm workng
- I hate to work on Sundays. (specific
time and situation)
- I like playing the piano. (I like the
process andfeeling of playing the piano.)
- I like to play the piano. (It's a fact I like
to play the piano.)
- I love living in the country. (I'm
probably living there now.)
- I love to live in the country. (Generally
speaking I like the country, maybe I'm not living
- I prefer to study by myself. (Sounds
- I prefer studying by myself. (Sounds
more personal, perhaps I'm studying now.)
These verbs are also often used with would
and the infinitive, and refer to specific situations.
- I would love to go to China.
- We would prefer to meet at 7.00.
Allow / permit
permit have one pattern for gerunds and
another for infinitives.
allow + gerund - My teacher doesn't allow
eating in class.
allow + object + infinitive - My teacher doesn't
allow us to eat in class.
permit + gerund - My teacher doesn't permit
eating in class.
permit + object + infinitive - My teacher doesn't
permit us to eat in class.