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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.