Posts Tagged ‘infinitives’

To-infinitive or gerund – Part I

January 9th, 2011 in Improve English

Many verbs can be followed by both infinitives and gerunds. Some verbs can only be followed by infinitives. There are also some verbs which can only be followed by gerunds.

Enjoy, avoid, miss, postpone and suggest

The verbs enjoy, miss, postpone and suggest are often wrongly used with the to-infinitive. Instead, they should be used with the gerund.

He enjoys painting. (NOT He enjoys to paint.)
She suggested consulting an expert. (NOT She suggested to consult an expert.)
She avoids meeting strangers. (NOT She avoids to meet strangers.)

Advice, allow, permit and forbid

If there is no object an -ing form is used after these verbs in active clauses. If there is an object we use an infinitive.

I wouldn’t advise talking to him. (NOT I wouldn’t advise to talk to him.)
I wouldn’t advise you to talk to him. (NOT I wouldn’t advise you talking to him.)
We don’t permit smoking in the hall.
We don’t permit people to smoke in the hall. (NOT We don’t permit people smoking in the hall.)
The principal has forbidden playing in the garden.
The principal has forbidden children to play in the garden.

Begin and start

Begin and start can be followed by infinitives or -ing forms with no difference in meaning.

She started teaching when she was seventeen. OR She started to teach when she was seventeen.


Try can be followed by infinitives or -ing forms.

She tried calling her parents. OR She tried to call her parents.

Try + -ing form can also be used to talk about doing something to see what will happen.

‘Susie is in a verb bad mood.’ ‘Try sending her some flowers.’ (More natural than ‘Try to send her some flowers.’)