May 15, 2023, Comment off

Gerunds and Infinitives

Introduction to Gerunds and Infinitives

Exploring the Functionality of Verbals: Gerunds and Infinitives are essential verbals in English grammar, yet their usage and structure remain a challenge for many language learners and speakers. Gerunds function as nouns while ending with “-ing,” whereas Infinitives use “to” to connect the base form of a verb to form a noun, adverbial or adjective phrase amidst other functions. Understanding how gerunds and infinitives combine in sentences is vital for accurate communication in both written and spoken English.

Taking note of Whether to Use Gerunds or Infinitives: One can use gerunds and infinitives interchangeably in some contexts, but in most cases, certain verbs dictate their usage. For instance, ‘admit‘ or ‘avoid‘ takes either gerund or infinitive objects depending on the intended meaning or context. Thus, it’s crucial to recognize such verbs’ peculiarities before selecting between gerunds or infinitives.

Mastering Gerunds and Infinitives through Practice: Practice makes perfect when it comes to mastering the art of using gerunds and infinitives correctly. Incorporating them into daily communication, reading widely, recording mistakes, and and seeking professional feedback can tremendously improve the language skills needed to navigate more complex contexts where proper usage is paramount.

Historical Use of Gerunds And Infinitives: The term “gerund” originated from Latin ‘gērundium,‘ which means “to be carried out.” Donatus first introduced it during the Roman Empire period before being adapted into modern grammar. Similarly, the term “infinitive” traces its roots from Latin “infinitivus,” which means indefinite due to its versatility in forming different phrases that can serve as various grammatical functions beyond nouns.

Gerunds may sound like a disease but don’t worry. It’s just a fancy way of turning a verb into a noun.


Using verbs as nouns can help in forming clear and concise sentences. These verbs are referred to as nominalized verbs or gerunds. Gerunds take the form of “-ing” and are used as subjects, objects, or complements in a sentence.

Gerunds can be modified by an adverb, adjective, or noun phrase, making them more specific. They can also be used after prepositions, just like nouns. Gerunds are often confused with present participles, which also end with “-ing,” but the difference lies in their usage. Present participles are used to describe actions, while gerunds act like nouns.

For example: “Swimming is a great exercise.” In this sentence, “swimming” acts as a subject and is used as a noun.

Infinitives, on the other hand, have the word “to” before the base form of a verb. An infinitive can function as a subject, object or complement in a sentence. It can also be modified by an adverb or adjective similar to gerunds.

Infinitives are usually preceded by a verb such as “want,” “like,” or “need.” For example: “I want to learn Spanish.” Here, “to learn” acts as an object of the verb “want.”

Understanding the differences between gerunds and infinitives is important for constructing grammatically correct sentences that convey meaning effectively.

Studies show that native English speakers use both gerunds and infinitives frequently in their speech and writing.

Infinitives: When you just can’t be bothered to conjugate a verb properly.


Gerunds and infinitives are often confused due to their similar form but different functions in sentences. While gerunds act as nouns and end in ‘-ing’, infinitives are often introduced by ‘to’ followed by a verb in its base form. Gerunds also serve as subjects and objects of sentences, while infinitives, although following verbs such as want or expect, do not act solely as nouns but can function otherwise.

It is important to note that while some verbs require either gerunds or infinitives after them depending on their meaning (e.g., ‘remember’ + gerund for remembering past actions; ‘remember’ + infinitive for not forgetting future actions), others can be used interchangeably (e.g., ‘like to swim’ vs. ‘like swimming’). Therefore, it is necessary to understand the context of a sentence and the particular verb used before determining which verbal form should be employed.

According to, “The most common mistake with gerunds and infinitives is using a gerund or infinitive when your instincts tell you otherwise.” It is essential to pay close attention to these minor details; correct usage of gerunds and infinitives will aid effective communication in both written and spoken language.

Mastering gerunds and infinitives is crucial for any grammar enthusiast unless you enjoy leaving your sentences dangling like a participle.

Using Gerunds and Infinitives

Mastering the use of gerunds and infinitives is crucial to achieving fluency in English. Both are verb forms that function as either a subject, object, or complement within a sentence. Gerunds end with “-ing” while infinitives usually begin with “to.” They can be used interchangeably but have distinct rules for usage. Correct use ensures effective communication and eliminates the ambiguity in conveying messages. Understanding the context of the sentence is key to making correct choices between gerunds and infinitives.

Using gerunds and infinitives within a sentence requires careful consideration of the function they serve in that particular structure. For instance, gerunds function best as subjects of verbs or as objects of prepositions, while infinitives are ideal after adjectives or certain verbs. There are also idiomatic expressions that require specific verb forms, such as “I look forward to” or “I enjoy.” It is essential to remember that certain verbs take either form but change their meaning slightly.

An important point to note when using gerunds and infinitives is that they cannot replace each other indiscriminately; this choice must reflect the intended message accurately. A tip for correct usage would be to pay close attention to surrounding words and identify the need for clarity versus conciseness; this will help make appropriate choices between the two forms while ensuring fluent and error-free communication.

Pro Tip: Correct usage lies not only in understanding grammatical rules but also using them appropriately according to context and intention; practice makes perfect.

Using gerunds and infinitives incorrectly is like playing hopscotch blindfolded – you never know where you’re going to land.

Common Mistakes Using Gerunds and Infinitives

Confusion about using Gerunds and Infinitives is widespread among language learners. Common errors include inappropriate usage, subject-verb agreement, and sentence structure. Addressing these issues can significantly improve language proficiency. Moreover, understanding the differences between gerunds and infinitives, their relevant contexts, and associated prepositions can aid comprehension further. A crucial factor to consider is identifying whether a noun-like expression or verb-like expression is required.

Pro Tip: Reading grammar books regularly can increase awareness of grammatical nuances in languages.

Whether it’s gerunds or infinitives, choosing the right one is like picking your poison – either way, you’ll still feel a little grammatically sick.

Conclusion: Recap of Gerunds and Infinitives and Their Uses.

Gerunds and infinitives are two important aspects of the English language that have their unique uses and functions. It is essential to understand their differences to use them effectively in both written and spoken communication. Gerunds function as a noun, while infinitives can act as a noun, adjectives, or adverbs. They can also be used after certain verbs, prepositions, and adjectives to convey specific meanings.

Furthermore, gerunds are formed by adding -ing to verbs, while infinitives are the base form of the verb preceded by ‘to.’ Infinitives often introduce purpose clauses to express an intended outcome or goal in academic writing. Using gerunds as subjects or objects in sentences is common in everyday speech. Conversely, using an infinitive phrase as a subject or object conveys a formal tone.

In addition to their difference in usage, some verbs require gerunds while others require infinitives, and some may accept either form with distinct changes in meaning. This is particularly true for modal verbs such as would, should, and could. Proper use of gerunds and infinitives takes practice; thus, it is essential to study examples of usage.

The Cambridge English Dictionary says, “Using only gerund forms can make your ideas sound more complicated or less direct than they actually are.” Hence, one must choose the right form depending on the context of communicative needs and objectives when communicating.

It is clear that understanding how to use gerunds and infinitives correctly enhances one’s ability to communicate accurately and effectively.

Want to learn more about English Grammar? Check our Quick Start Grammar Guide for everything you need to know.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are gerunds and infinitives?

A: Gerunds and infinitives are verb forms that are used as nouns in a sentence.

Q: How do I know whether to use a gerund or an infinitive?

A: The choice between a gerund and an infinitive depends on the verb that comes before it and the context of the sentence.

Q: Can a gerund or an infinitive act as a subject in a sentence?

A: Yes, both gerunds and infinitives can act as subjects in a sentence.

Q: What is the difference between a gerund and an infinitive?

A: The main difference between a gerund and an infinitive is that a gerund always ends in -ing and functions as a noun, while an infinitive usually starts with “to” and can function as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

Q: Can a verb phrase consist of both a gerund and an infinitive?

A: Yes, a verb phrase can consist of both a gerund and an infinitive, as in the sentence “She loves to sing.”

Q: Are there any verbs that only go with gerunds or infinitives?

A: Yes, some verbs only take gerunds, such as “enjoy” and “avoid,” while others only take infinitives, such as “decide” and “promise.”