One of the difficulties of the English language is that some verbs are followed by the gerund (ex : doing) and others are followed by the infinitive (ex : to do). Other verbs, however, can be followed by both.
Generally speaking we can use the following rules:
Examples Rules Explanations Verb + gerund 1. I enjoy playing
2. I denied stealing
Often we use the gerund for an action that happens before or at the same time as the action of the main verb. 1. I enjoy myself at the time of playing.
2. I deny having stolen anything before.
Verb + infinitive 1. I decided to visit my uncle
2. I want to go out
Often we use the infinitive for actions that follow the action of the main verb. 1. Visiting my uncle was an action of my decision. It comes after.
2. What I want (now) is to go out (after/later)
These rules are helpful but DO NOT always explain all uses of gerunds and infinitives.
1- After verbs that express likes/dislikes :
- don't mind
- can't stand
- can't bear
" I like playing soccer but I hate boxing."
2- After certain other verbs, such as :
- go (in go swimming)
- waste time/money
- keep (on)
- can't help
- can't stand
" I suggest going to the theater."
3- After prepositions :
interested in ...
instead of ...
good at ...
"I am interested in collecting stamps."
"After playing football I drank an orange juice".
4- After certain expressions :
it's no use ...
it's no good ...
there's no point in ...
I can't help...
I don't mind...
I can't stand/bear...
" It's no use convincing him to revise his lessons. He's so stubborn."
1- After verbs that refer to a future event:
- be determined
- would like
- would hate
- would love
" I want to finish my work early.
2- After certain other verbs, such as:
"She refused to forgive him."
3- After adjectives :
"I'm glad to know that you passed the exam."
"I'm pleased to meet you."
"I'm disappointed to hear that you flunked maths."
4- After "too" & "enough":
"It's too difficult to convince him to be helpful."
" But it's easy enough to fool him to get what you want."
Exercise on gerund or infinitive.
Some verbs can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive. Here are some examples:
"I started smoking when I was young."
"I started to smoke when I left the office."