About Gerunds and Infinitives
WHAT ARE GERUNDS AND INFINITIVES?
Gerunds and infinitives play an important role in grammar and while they may not be taught at the beginner’s level, they have to be taught later. Gerunds and infinitives are especially useful for tests such as IELTS and also for better English skills. Both gerunds and infinitives can replace the noun in the sentence. The gerund always has the same function as a noun although it looks like a verb. Infinitives are created by to + verb.
HOW ARE GERUNDS USED?
A gerund is a noun made from a verb by adding ‘-ing’. Gerund can be used as a subject, the complement, the direct object or the object of preposition in the sentence.
Examples of gerund as the subject in the sentence:
- Shopping helps her escape boredom.
- Smoking is injurious to health.
- Walking is good exercise.
- Reading and writing are important tasks.
- Eating fruits and vegetables is good for health.
To make the sentence negative, ‘not’ can be used with the gerund:
Not smoking any more is the best cure he has found for himself.
Examples of gerund as the complement of the verb in the sentence:
- Her favorite pastime is shopping.
- One of his duties is correcting
- The trickiest part of English grammar is identifying the gerund.
Examples of gerund as the direct object of the sentence:
- She enjoys dancing.
- Some people prefer dieting as a weight loss option.
- He hates reading.
Examples of gerund as the object of preposition (after the preposition) in the sentence:
- Another method of increasing stamina is to swim regularly.
- She is good at debating.
- There is no point in waiting for him.
An infinitive is used with adding ‘to’ after the first verb and before the second verb. Consider this example to show the difference between a gerund and an infinitive:
- I expect to get all the work done by tomorrow (Infinitive)
- I foresee getting all the work done by tomorrow (Gerund)
It is important to remember that an infinitive form of the verb does not take a tense and is the bare form of the verb and is made by adding ‘to’ to it. For example, to go, to wait, to see, to explain, to consider and so on, are all examples of infinitives.
- To consider the second option may be a good idea – Infinitive as a subject
- I wanted to check before assuming things – Infinitive as a direct object
- It took him all day to finish the assignment – Infinitive with the verb ‘take’
- I studied MBA to gain promotions – Infinitive to show purpose
- It is impossible to finish this task – Infinitive in sentences beginning with ‘it’
- I was cautious not to disturb them – Infinitive with some adjectives
WHEN ARE GERUNDS AND INFINITIVES USED?
An important point to be remembered at all times is that when two verbs are used together in a sentence, the second verb has to become a gerund or/an infinitive. Let’s take a look at some examples of verbs that are followed by gerunds and infinitives:
- I look forward to spending time with you. (Gerund)
- I expect him to manipulate. (Infinitive)
- You should avoid sleeping. (Gerund)
- He practiced shooting baskets every evening. (Gerund)
- He needs to discuss his problems. (Infinitive)
- I enjoyed having the room all to myself. (Gerund)
REMEMBER! Please don’t use both ‘to’ and ‘ing’ together! Else it may sound like this:’ I want to learning, but I am confused!’ It’s either this or that!
There are many verb lists for gerunds and infinitives. You may visit http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/verblist.htm to view an exhaustive list.
Try your hand at these exercises and leave your answers in the comments section below:
Place the verbs given within brackets in the gerund or infinitive: (use ‘to’ with the verb for infinitives)
- ____________ on the Alps was memorable. (ski)
- What’s this used for? It’s for __________ (chop) vegetables.
- We want ________ (pass) the test.
- It took us all day ______ (climb) the mountain.
- _____________ (work) on a holiday is ridiculous.
Answers: Skiing, chopping, to pass, to climb, Working