Lesson Focus — Page 1 of 3
Gerunds and Infinitives
Gerunds are verbs with “-ing.”
walking, discussing, being
Infinitives are verbs with “to”.
to walk, to discuss, to be
It can be really difficult for students of English to decide whether to use a gerund or an infinitive.
Sometimes, it doesn't matter which form you choose. They are both correct, and they both have the same meaning. For example, when a gerund or infinitive follows the verbs like, start, begin, or continue, the meaning is the same.
I like dancing. = I like to dance.
She started coughing. = She started to cough.
He began laughing. = He began to laugh.
They continued driving. = They continued to drive.
Other times, though, using a gerund or an infinitive can totally change the meaning of what you are saying. For example, when a gerund or infinitive follows the verbs stop, remember, forget, or try, the meaning is very different.
I stopped smoking. = I will never smoke again.
I stopped to smoke. = I stopped doing something else so that I could smoke.
I remember locking the door. = I have a memory of that experience.
I remembered to lock the door. = I did not forget to lock the door.
I forget watering the plants. = I watered them, but I don’t remember the experience.
I forget to water the plants. = I do not water the plants.
I tried taking a different bus. = I got on a different bus.
I tried to take a different bus. = I attempted to get on a different bus, but I couldn’t do it.