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Verb + ing or infinitive – rules and exercises for intermediate level

Sunday, 20 May 2018
A man eating in a restaurant Verb + ing or infinitive: I hate cooking but I love eating = I hate to cook but I love to eat Designed by Freepik

Need an overview of the rules for using verb + ing or infinitive, with examples to help you learn and exercises to test your knowledge? Read on for our online English grammar lesson for intermediate level students.

Verb patterns: Use of verb +  ing

1. We use certain verbs + ing at the beginning of a sentence when it's used as the subject:

• Smoking is bad for you

• Running is my favourite hobby

2. We also use verbs + ing after a preposition including 'to', 'of', or 'without':

• I look forward to meeting you (where 'I look forward to' means 'I want to meet you')

• My sister is afraid of flying

• They left the party without saying goodbye

But be careful - you always use 'to' before the infinitive!

3. We always use the following verbs + ing, whatever the tense:

• Admit: I admit to liking the Spice Girls

• Avoid: He avoided doing homework as much as possible

• Dislike: Your cat dislikes getting his feet wet

• Enjoy: They always enjoyed studying together

• Risk: She risked missing the deadline

• Miss: We'll miss cooking together at the weekend when we go to different universities

• Consider: They considered seeing the new Star Wars movie at the weekend

• Fancy: Do you fancy trying that new Chinese restaurant? (With a + ing form, fancy means 'want to')


There's also a negative form of verb + ing. You form the negative using verb + not + verb + ing:

• My brother likes not getting up in the morning (With a + ing form, like means enjoy)

• My grandparents enjoy not working now they're retired (With a + ing form, enjoy can mean like)

In some cases, you can also use the form ‘verb + somebody + verb + ing'

• We discussed Harry going to College

• I can't imagine the Queen riding a motorbike

Verb patterns: Use of verb + infinitive

The infinitive form of the verb is formed by using 'to' + the base form of the verb.

• I want to study English in the UK

• Jim sometimes forgets to brush his teeth

We always use the following verbs + the infinitive, whatever the tense:

• Offer: He offered to take us for a ride in his car

• Decide: We decided to go for a walk in the countryside

• Hope: Jade hopes to visit America one day

• Deserve: Kanye feels he deserves to be given a prize

• Agree: "Let's agree to disagree," John said

• Refuse: I refuse to wear green, it's an unlucky colour

• Forget: He forgot to go to the dentist

• Learn: You learnt to walk when you were 10 months old

• Manage: He'll manage to pick up the laundry without any help tomorrow


There's also a negative form of verb + infinitive. You form the negative by using verb + not + infinitive

• I'm not going to play the drums any more

• Tanya didn't (did not) want to fly as she was scared

Some infinitives also use the form 'verb + somebody + infinitive'

• The told Tom to travel by train because it was cheaper

• We invited our friends to celebrate with us

The continuous infinitive is formed using to be + present participle

The continuous infinitive refers to the same time period as the preceding verb and is used to talk about an action that is happening now or over a period of time:

• This time next month, I'll be sunbathing on the beach

• During that time, Liz was supposed to be staying in Madrid

The perfect infinitive is formed using to have + past participle

The continuous infinitive refers to a time period before the preceding verb:

• She pretended to have enjoyed the meal

• I wonder if she wanted to have eaten a dessert?

We use verb + object + infinitive to command or persuade someone to do something.

We use this form with verbs like encourage, force, tell, require and choose:

• I encouraged him to take swimming lessons

• You can't force me to go to bed at 7!

• She told her sister to bring a bottle of wine to the party

• The college required him to have 3 'A' grades to gain a place

• We chose to travel by plane rather than boat

Verb patterns: Use of verb + ing or infinitive

Sometimes you can use a verb with +ing or the infinitive without a change in meaning.

These verbs include hate, like, love and prefer:

• I hate cooking but I love eating

• I hate to cook but I love to eat

• I love swimming but I prefer sunbathing

• I love to swim but I prefer to sunbathe


Other verbs like remember, regret, go on, try, need, stop and like can also be followed by verb + ing or the infinitive, but with a change of meaning:

• He went on singing after everyone else had finished (he continued singing after everyone had stopped singing)

• He went on to sing after everyone else had finished (everyone else finished singing and then he started)

• I've stopped buying a newspaper (The + ing version tells us what has stopped)

• The bus stopped to pick up the children (the infinitive tells us why something has stopped)

• I tried to stop him leaving but he went home anyway (It was impossible to stop him leaving, where trying is something negative or impossible)

• Have you tried skiing? I love it! (Skiing is something you might enjoy, where trying something is an experiment that could be good or bad)

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Last modified on Sunday, 20 May 2018 11:38