Gerunds & Infinitives

Gerunds and Infinitives: What are gerunds and infinitives? Gerund meaning with examples, Infinitive verbs, Gerund and Participle exercises for English Grammar

Gerunds and Infinitives: What are gerunds and infinitives? Gerund meaning with examples, Infinitive verbs, Gerund and Participle exercises for English Grammar

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Learning Pundits Content Team

Written on Sep 29, 2017 8:13:34 PM

Grammar Rules with 16 Tips on using Gerunds & Infinitives

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What are Gerunds & Infinitives?

Gerunds and Infinitives are types of Non-Finite verbs.

Non-Finite Verb: Verbs that have no separate subject and do not show tense (i.e.) these verbs are not conjugated in relation to a subject.

Example: I like to give him money today. (Here ‘like’ has ‘I’ as its subject so it is a Finite verb but ‘to give’ has no subject and limitation of number so it is a Non-Finite verb)

Types and Functions of Non-Finite Verb:

a)    Infinitives. She comes here to swim. (functions as a noun, adjective or adverb)

b)    Gerunds. She does not like swimming. (functions as a noun)

c)    Participle. She participates in swimming events. (functions as an adjective)

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Tips on using Gerund:

Tip #1: Subject-Object

Subject: Gerunds can appear at the beginning of a sentence when used as a subject.

Smoking is injurious to health.

Object: Gerunds can act as an object following the verb.

Dinesh quit smoking a year ago.

Tip #2: Gerund vs. Infinitive, Participle

Gerund vs Infinitive: Some verbs can be followed by both a gerund and an infinitive (being used as a noun) without causing a change in meaning.

a)    Infinitive: I like to swim. (General/ habit)

b)    Gerund: I like swimming. (General/ habit)

c)    Infinitive: I like to swim today. (Note the meaning has changed from previous two examples)

Gerund vs. Participle: Gerunds always functions as nouns, whereas participles function as adjectives.

a)    Participle: Barking dogs seldom bite. (‘Barking’ functioning as adjective to ‘dog’)

b)    Gerund: We can hear the barking. (‘Barking’, functioning as a noun, is the sound heard by us)

Tip #3: To + Gerund

To + Gerund: used after certain verbs and phrases like ‘be used to, with a view to, accustomed to, owing to, given to, look forward to, prone to, in addition to,’ etc.

a)    He is used to swimming early in the morning.

b)    She is accustomed to speaking in English in school.

c)    Naveen comes here with a view to studying.

Tip #4: Preposition + Gerund

Preposition + Gerund: is used after certain verbs and phrases that are followed by appropriate prepositions (in, on, from, of) instead of ‘to’.

a)    She restrains from making any statement.

b)    He is confident of winning.

c)    He rebuked you for coming late. (Showing cause for the action)

d)    The book is for reading. (Showing purpose for which the subject is used)

Tip #5: Direct Gerund

Direct Gerund: certain verbs are followed directly by gerunds (e.g.) avoid, love, like, dislike, prefer, consider, finish, miss, imagine, regret etc.

a)    She enjoys (to ride) riding on the hills.

b)    Paul avoids using chemicals on the vegetables he grows.

Give up, Put off, and Set about: Phrasal verbs like these ones are followed by Direct Gerund.

a)    The coach called off practicing for the day.

b)    Tom looked into finding a new job.

Tip #6: Possessive Noun/ Pronoun + Gerund

Possessive Noun/ pronoun + gerund: The noun or pronoun before a gerund should be in possessive case.

a)    Shweta insisted on Rahul’s coming with her.

b)    I did not like his singing.

Tips on using Infinitive:

Tip #1: Subject-Object, How + Infinitive

Subject: Infinitive can appear at the beginning of a sentence when used as a subject.

To visit the Taj Mahal is my life-long dream.

Object: Infinitive can act as an object following the verb.

Nilesh always forgets to eat.

How to + Infinitive: When used with verbs of manner/method like teach, show, explain, learn, know, discover, and wonder etc., the infinitive is used as ‘how to’.

He knows how to color with crayons.

Tip #2: Noun, Adverb, Adjective

As a Noun: To dance was her passion. (The infinitive ‘to dance’ is the subject of the verb ‘was’.)

As an Adjective: Give him an ornament to polish. (The infinitive ‘to polish’ functions as an adjective and modifies ornament.)

As an Adverb: He will complete the mission to set an example. (The infinitive ‘to set’ modifies the verb will complete. This means it is functioning as an adverb.)

Tip #3: Too, Very, Enough

Too: when used with ‘too’, the infinitive denotes negative meaning.

She is too tired to help me. (Meaning she can’t help me)

Very: when used with ‘very’, the infinitive expresses affirmative meaning.

We are very happy to see you.

Enough: when used with ‘enough’, the infinitive expresses affirmative meaning

I've had enough food to eat.

Tip #4: Need, Dare

Need, Dare: When these two words are used as auxiliaries in negative and interrogative sentences, direct infinitive, that’s infinitive without ‘to’, is used after them.

a)    He need not work hard.

b)    He needs to work hard.

c)    Need he work there now?

d)    Do you need to work there now?

Tip #5: Let, Bid, Know, Hear, Help, Watch

Bid, Know, Make, Help, feel, Hear, Watch and See: when these words are used in Active Voice, they are followed by Direct Infinitive.

a)    I made the student write an essay. (Active voice-direct infinitive, so no ‘to’ used before ‘write’)

b)    The student was made to write an essay. (Passive voice- infinitive, ‘to’ is used before ‘write’)

Let: is followed by Direct Infinitive both in active and passive voice.

a)    Her parents let her go to cinema. (Passive)

b)    Let's go out for a walk tonight. (Active)

Tip #6: Had better, As, Why Not, But, Except

Had better, Had rather, Would better, Would rather, As soon, Sooner than: these phrases are followed by Direct Infinitive. 

We had better to take some warm clothing.

Why, Why not: is followed by the Direct Infinitive when making suggestions.

a)    Why not buy a new bed?

b)    Why to wait until tomorrow?

But, Than, Except, And, As, For: Direct Infinitive is used with these words.

He did nothing but to sleep.

Tip #7: Perfect Infinitive

Perfect Infinitive is used if the action expressed by the Infinitive precedes the action of the Finite verb OR in Third conditional sentences.

a)    He admitted to have uttered those words. (‘Uttered’ happened before he ‘admitted’)

b)    She seems to have quit her job.

c)    She was sorry to have missed the show.

d)    He reported to have lost the file.

e)    Before I turn 40, I want to have written a book. (Third conditional)

Tip #8: Continuous Infinitive

Appear, Seem, Believe, Consider, Think, Report, Happen, Arrange, Pretend, Hope, Say: Continuous Infinitive is used with these verbs when needed.

a)    I happened to be waiting for the bus when the accident happened.

b)    You'd better be working on your report when I get there. (‘To’ removed as followed by ‘would rather’)

c)    You must be joking! (‘To’ removed as followed by modal verb ‘must)

Tip #9: Should, Could, May, Might, Must

Will, Would, Can, Could, Must, May, Might: all these modal verbs are followed by direct infinitive, without ‘to’.

a)    We should be hurrying(With continuous infinitive form)

b)    Someone must have broken the window and climbed in. (with perfect infinitive form)

c)    They might have been talking before you came in. (with perfect continuous infinitive form)

d)    Alice could be given a prize for her artwork. (With passive infinitive form)

Tip #10: With, By, As, In

With, By, As, In: all these and other prepositions are used with the infinitive when the infinitive qualifies the noun.

a)    She gave me a pen to write with. 

b)    They offered me a bed to sleep in.

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Spot the Errors:

Each of the following sentences will contain a mistake in the usage of Adjectives. See if you can spot that mistake.


He is addicted to watch TV continuously. (Incorrect)

He is addicted to watching TV continuously (Correct).


Please give me a pen to write. (Incorrect)

Please give me a pen to write with. (Correct)


She is reported to work in Chandigarh nowadays. (Incorrect)

She is reported to be working in Chandigarh nowadays. (Correct)


You should avoid to drive at night. (Incorrect)

You should avoid driving at night. (Correct)


I have no house to live. (Incorrect)

I have no house to live in. (Correct)


He is enough ill to go out. (Incorrect)

He is too ill to go out. (Correct)


She is prone to injure herself. (Incorrect)

She is prone to injuring herself. (Correct)


I still remember to meet you last year in Mumbai. (Incorrect)

I still remember having met you last year in Mumbai. (Correct)


It is no use to wait for her. (Incorrect)

It is no use waiting for her. (Correct)


She confessed to cheat in the exam. (Incorrect)

She confessed to have cheated in the exam. (Correct)


Why not to rest now? (Incorrect)

Why not rest now? (Correct)


Shiela is bent to go to Hyderabad next week. (Incorrect)

Shiela is bent on going to Hyderabad next week. (Correct)


My mother taught me how cook food. (Incorrect)

My mother taught me how to cook food. (Correct)


The machine is for to measure weight. (Incorrect)

The machine is for measuring weight. (Correct)


I will have him to finish the food completely. (Incorrect)

I will have him finish the food completely. (Correct)


He dare not to go to the park at night. (Incorrect)

He dare not go to the park at night. (Correct)


The train is expected leaving the station in five minutes. (Incorrect)

The train is expected to leave the station in five minutes. (Correct)


The trainer let him to take a break. (Incorrect)

The trainer let him take a break. (Correct)


He has given up to play sitar. (Incorrect)

He has given up playing sitar. (Correct)


She might to come tomorrow. (Incorrect)

She might come tomorrow. (Correct)

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Gerunds & Infinitives

Gerunds and Infinitives: What are gerunds and infinitives? Gerund meaning with examples, Infinitive verbs, Gerund and Participle exercises for English Grammar


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