By Mubarak Abdessalami

Which one to use and why?

Put the verb between brackets in the correct tense.

    Leila stopped (say) hello to her friends.    

What a quandary! "Shall I use the infinitive to say or the gerund saying ?" I asked my teacher about it but she just said, "It depends ...!" But it depends on what? I figured out that she wanted me to work out my brains to see to what extent I could solve this enigma. Well!
  1. Leila stopped to say hello to her friends.
  2. Leila stopped saying hello to her friends.

I bet they are both correct, but they bear each a completely different meaning. I got it now; it depends on what I mean!

Grammatically speaking, example one respects the rule which says that in a successive verbs situation the second should be in the infinitive. That's why I didn't use the infinitive without to. As for example 2, the verb "stop" is followed by the gerund just like other verbs such as, remember, forget, regret etc.

Meaning perhaps will make things clearer:
  1. Leila was walking around or riding a bike when she saw her friends and stopped to greet them.
  2. Leila used to say "Hello!" to her friends, but now she stopped doing that. She no longer greets them because of something. It could be a quarrel or whatever. That's none our business.

Now let me tell you something! To get rid of such dilemma, one has to read a lot and from time to time check for rules, they really help. The verbs that are followed by both the gerund and infinitive are to my mind tricky and mean. Look at this one:
  1. He remembered telling her the news.
  2. He remembered to tell her the news.
  1. I tried to tell her the news, but she refused to listen.
  2. I tried telling her but in vain.

In the first example the telling has taken place before thinking about it, in the second however, the speaker thought about telling her then he did it. Many other verbs give the same headache: start, begin, continue, love, hate, like, neglect and others. Is it clear? If not allow me some time to give you more situations where the gerund and the infinitive are the main actors.


Bear in mind that only the gerund is used after these expressions:
It's no use .... | "It's no use crying over spilt milk" (proverb)
Look forward to ... | I'm looking forward to seeing you soon.
Get/be used to ... | I'm used to drinking a cup of coffee after lunch.
Be keen on ... | She's keen on singing pop songs
Couldn't help ... | When I met her, I couldn't help hugging her tightly.
Feel like ... | I feel like having a cold drink now.
Be busy ... | She is busy doing her homework right now.
Would you mind ... | Would you mind mailing this letter for me, please?
How / what about ... | How about inviting your grandmother for the party.
Worth ... | The film is actually worth viewing.

As well as after these verbs:

Enjoy | She enjoys making fun of everybody.
admit | He admitted breaking the window pane.
deny | He denied breaking into the office.
consider | The manager considered phoning the police
reconsider | She finally reconsidered involving the authorities in her own affairs.
keep | The clerk kept shouting at everybody like a madman.
imagine | He imagined being able to impress them.
regret | He eventually regretted damaging the window.
avoid | She always avoid talking to him about the problem.
finish | They finished doing their work very early.
stop | He stopped teasing his sister after her mother shouted at him.
include | The treaty includes not interfering with the others' inner problems.
involve | The contract involves building a fence.
justify | He can't justify being late for school everyday.
forget | Sorry, I forgot sending you the catalogue.
remember | I remembered sweeping the floor before I came here.
suggest | They suggested travelling by bus.
quit | It was hard for her to quit smoking.
need | She needed repainting her car.
put off | She puts off meeting him.
postpone | We postponed organising the party.

Other verbs that are followed by a gerund are:
adore, anticipate, appreciate, contemplate, delay, describe, detest, dislike, escape, fancy, feel, give, hear, include, justify, listen to, mention, mind, miss, notice, observe, perceive, practice, recall, report, resent, resume, risk, see, sense, tolerate and watch.

And after some "phrasal verbs" & verbs + prepositions

- Carry on | She didn't even looked at me. she just carried on typing the letter.
- Go on | They went on playing tennis despite the rain.
- Give up | She wanted him to give up nagging at her.
- Cope with | They tried to cope with working in cold weather.
- Apologize for | She apologizes for making noise.
- Complain about | She continues to complain about keeping the door wide open.
- Keep on | She kept on complaining...
- Insist on | She insisted on doing the task herself.
- Blame for | She blames me for damaging her CD player.
- Succeed in | She succeeds in keeping the children busy for a longer time.
- Think of | We are thinking of moving to a bigger city.
- Worry about | They worry about losing their jobs.
- etc |

What about adjectives+ prepositions then?

We also use the gerund after the following:
- Be proud of => They're proud of participating in that humanitarian project.
- Be tired of => I'm tired of repeating the same thing all the time.
- Be afraid of => She's afraid of being wrong.
- Be fond of => Her children are fond of eating dates in the morning.
- Be sick of => I'm sick of eating burgers everyday.
- Be worried about => He's worried about letting her go abroad alone.
- Be happy about => We were all happy about celebrating the new year in Paris.
- Be glad about => She's glad about receiving the award.
- Be angry about => They are angry about staying under the rain for hours.
- Be crazy about => She's crazy about singing in the bathroom.
- Be excited about => They are excited about attending the scientistís lecture.
- Be sorry about => She's sorry about breaking the vase unintentionally.
- Be interested in => The students seem interested in doing quizzes.

After, before, without and No:

The gerund is mostly applicable after 'before', 'after', 'without' and 'no':

The Infinitive

The infinitive is known in terms of "to + verb" and this is the base verb. Yet the verb without its particle (to) is also a verb but it is bare. This information, I guess, is not witty at all because the verb without "to" is also imposing in some circumstances. Language is sometimes too much demanding, isn't it?

Whole Infinitive {to + verb}

The base verb "to + verb" is compulsory
after conjugated verbs

As you could see, when two verbs are successive the second is forced into the infinitive with "to" of course.

Apart from the cases in which both gerund and infinitive are usable, there are cases in which only the use of the whole infinitive is accurate such as the case above.
After some question words!
After some adjectives
- Important | It is important to surf the net for more lessons.
- Easy | It is not easy to learn a language without practising it regularly.
- Difficult | It seems difficult to know everything about the topic in one session.
- hard | It is really hard to forget nice people.
- etc |

Infinitive without "to":

Now let me insist on the fact that some verbs require to be followed by the bare infinitive. These verbs are:

- to help, to let and to make:

- As well as after "would rather" and "had better":

  • I'd rather read the book than watch the film.
  • She'd better get married before it is too late.
  • And, of course, after Modal verbs like:
    - can, could, must, may, might, should, ought to, etc

    Infinitive and Gerund

    Some verbs accept both infinitive and gerund and they mean almost the same thing like: But be careful, this is not always like this. Sometimes they have different meanings. Once again, "It all depends...". So let me show you an amazing little thing about the use of infinitive and gerund after some verbs:
    Tell me what is the difference - if there's any - between:
    1. Leila likes to eat couscous.
    2. Leila likes eating couscous.

    The action with the gerund form is mostly a long lasting one.

    Now see if you can decipher the meaning from these two statements:
    1. The man stopped smoking.
    2. The man stopped to smoke.

    I guess you'll surely do it if you read this paper from the beginning. Well, these two sentences don't say the same thing.
    1. The first one says that the man quitted or gave up smoking. He used to smoke, but now he no longer does.
    2. The second sentence however says the man was walking when he stopped to light a cigarette.

    Now if you did it right, try to explain these two other sentences:
    1. I forgot to send them a letter of invitation.
    2. I forgot sending them a letter of invitation.
    Which sentence says that I have already sent the letter?

    Obviously it's number 2 because it says that I had sent them the letter of invitation but I only forgot doing so. The first says that I still don't send them the Invitation because I forgot to do.

    It is also the same for:

    1. I remembered to give him the money I owed him.
    2. I remembered giving him the money I owed him.
    Now can you tell me which of the two sentences below is correct?
    1. It stopped to rain.
    2. It stopped raining.

    Gerund and Infinitive as subjects

    Both the gerund and the infinitive can act as nouns like in:
    In both sentences, the gerund (present participle) and the whole infinitive have the force of a noun. In the above examples they are subjects.

    Well! this is the end but the intricacies of the gerundive and the infinitive never end. Thank you for being so patient and good luck!!


    Rewrite the verbs between parentheses in their correct forms.

    01. The following questions are easy (answer) .
    02. Just avoid (make) silly mistakes.
    03. He asks the children to stop (play) football in the lane.
    04. He promised to help me (chop up) the wood.
    05. Unlike Gene Kelly, I hate (sing) in the rain.
    06. We are used to (get up) early in the morning.
    07. I can't stand (wait) while she is at the hairdresser's.
    08. Can you manage to finish (repair) my car before noon?
    09. I don't feel like (go) jogging today.
    10. She failed many times but she kept (try) until she made it.



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    The semantics of verbal complements: Gerund & Infinitive