Posted on Leave a comment

to + infinitive, gerund, -ing, Participles


to – infinitive is used

  • to express purpose
    he went to a bank to get some money
  • after certain verbs (agree, appear, decide, expect, hope, plan, promise, refuse)
    he promised to help us
  • after adjectives which
    • describe feelings/emotions (happy, glad, etc.)
    • express willingness (willing, eager, reluctant, anxious, unwilling, etc.)
    • refer to person’s character (mean, clever, etc.)
    • with adjectives lucky and fortunate
      I was annoyed to hear it
      He is reluctant to help
      You were clever not to believe them

      Note: Also impersonal construction possible
      It was clever of you not to believe them
  • after certain nouns and pronouns: something, somewhere, anyone, nothing, etc.
    Take something to drink
  • after too/enough
    she is too young to stay there
  • with it+be+adjective/noun
    it is great to buy a car
  • to talk about unexpected events (usually with only)
    They rushed to airport (only) to be informed that flight had been canceled
  • after: be + last, first, second, next, best
    he was the first to arrive
  • after: ask, learn, find out, wonder, want to know, decide, explain, etc. when they followed by question words (who, what, where, how)
    he explained how to operate the machine
    I don’t know why he left

bare infinitive is used

  • after modal verbs
    he should apologise
    but: ought + to infinitive
  • after: let, make, see, hear, feel (complete action)
    they saw her talk to the manager.
    but: be made, be heard, be seen + to-infinitive
    she was seen to talk to the manager.
    but: I saw her getting into a taxi. She was seen getting into a taxi.
    but: can/could + see/hear + ing
    we could see smoke coming out of the building
  • after had better and would rather
    you had better see a doctor.
  • help is followed by either to-infinitive or bare
    she helped me (to) fill in a form

ing form is used

  • as a noun
    cycling is a form of exercise
  • after: admit, anticipate, appreciate, avoid, consider, continue, delay, deny, discuss, enjoy, escape, excuse, fancy, finish, forgive, go, imagine, involve, keep (= continue), mention, mind, miss, postpone, practise, prevent, quit, recall, recollect, report, resent, resist, risk, save, stand, suggest, tolerate, understand, etc.
    He avoided answering my question.
    They considered moving abroid.
  • after: dislike, enjoy, hate, like, love, prefer to express general preference
    she likes painting
    but: would like / would love / would prefer to express specific preference
    I’d like to paint your portrait
  • after: be busy, it’s no use, it’s (no) good, it’s (not) worth, what’s the use of, can’t help, there is no point, can’t stand, have difficulty in, have trouble, have a hard time, etc.
    what’s the use of waiting for an answer
  • after: spend, waste, lose (time, money)
    we wasted a lot of time trying to find a parking.
    he lost money investing
  • after prepositions
    he was found guilty of lying in court
  • after preposition ‘to’: look forward to, be used to, get round to, object to, in addition to, prefer, etc.
    she objects to working on saturday
  • after: hear, listen to, notice, see, watch, feel to describe an incomplete action
    I listened to James singing a song (means he listened to part of song, not the whole)
    but: bare infitivite to describe a complete action
    I listened to James sing a song

We use for + noun/pronoun to introduce the subject of the intinitive:

  • with the verbs: arrange, hope, long, prepare, ask wait, etc.
    we have arrange for the plumber to come tomorrow
  • with adjectives: anxious, cheap, convenient, dangerous, difficult, important, necessary, etc.
    I’m anxious for Ben to go to university.
  • with nouns: advantage, disadvantage, demand, disaster, idea, mistake, etc.
    It was a mistake for you to lend him the money.
  • with too/enough
    it was easy enough for her to find a job
  • when infinitive express purpose
    there are benches for people to sit on in the park

change in meaning

  1. forget + to-inf = not remenber (I forgot to buy newspaper)
    forget + ing = not recall (I’ll never forget travelling by plane for the first time)
  2. remember + to-inf = not forget (Did you remember to tell him )
    remember + ing = recall (I remember talking to him before)
  3. go on + to-inf = then (She introduced herself and went on to talk about her new book)
    go on + ing = continue (He went on writing letters until 2pm)
  4. mean + to-inf = intend to (She means to buy new car)
    mean + ing = involve (she wants to go to the concert even if it means paying a lot of money)
  5. regret + to-inf = be sorry to (we regret to inform you…)
    regret + ing = feel sorry about (he regretting selling his house)
  6. try + to-inf = attempt, do one’s best (we tried to move that branch)
    try + ing = do sth as experiment (if you can’t go to sleep, try drinking some milk)
  7. stop + to-inf = stop briefly to do smt else (
    stop + ing = finish, give up (
  8. be sorry + to-inf = apologise for a present action ( I’m sorry to say this)
    be sorry for + ing = apologise for an earlier action ( we are sorry for keeping you waiting)
  9. like + to-inf = think that sth is good or right to do ( I like to pay my bills)
    like + ing = enjoy (Tom likes meeting people)
    would like + to-inf = want
  10. be afraif + to-inf = the subject is unwilling to do sth ( he is afraid to touch the dog in case he bites him)
    be afraid of + ing = the subject is afraid that it happen (she does not want to drive the car. She is afraid of crashing it)


  1. present (staying, leaving, etc)
  2. past (stayed, left, etc)
  3. perfect (having left, etc)
  • Present answers the question ‘What kind’
    Past answers the question ‘How do you feel’
    It was an embarrassing situation. He was embarrassed.
  • can be used instead of a relative pronoun and full verb.
    the new shampoo advertised on tv is very expensive
  • to express reason
    Feeling shy, she didn’t talk to Ben (because she was shy…)
    Having seen the film before, I did not go to cinema (because I had seen …)
  • to express time
    after taking his master’s degree, he applied for a job.
    having taken his master’s degree, he applied for a job.
    we met John while shopping.
  • actions happening immediatele one after the other
    hearing the news, she fainted
  • to avoid repeating
    he was walking down the street whistling a tune

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.