Posts Tagged ‘infinitives’

To-infinitive or gerund – part II

January 9th, 2011 in Improve English

Like, love, hate and prefer

The verbs like, love, hate and prefer can be followed by both infinitives and gerunds. There is usually no difference of meaning.

I hate working late in the evening. OR I hate to work late in the evening.
I don’t do anything on Sundays. I like staying / to stay in bed.

After would like, would prefer, would hate and would love, infinitives are most often used.

I would like to tell you something. (NOT I would like telling you something.)


After verbs expressing likes and dislikes the gerund is used for making general statements and the infinitive for making statements about particular occasions.


Susan likes painting. (= Susan likes painting as an art.)
Susan likes to  paint this scenery.
John likes playing tennis. (General statement)
Would you like to play tennis this evening? (Particular occasion)

    See, watch and hear

    After these verbs an -ing form suggests that one pays attention to events or actions that are already going on. Infinitives are used to refer to complete actions or events which are seen or heard from beginning to the end.

    As I passed his house, I heard him singing a lovely a song.
    I once heard him sing all my favorite songs.

      In British English, like + -ing form is mostly used to talk about enjoyment, and like + infinitive to talk about choices. In American English like + infinitive is common in both senses.