English verb patterns

Using gerunds & infinitives with other verbs in English is a tricky thing, because some verbs are followed only by infinitives & other verbs — only by gerunds, while certain verbs may be followed by either one.

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Furthermore, use of infinitive or gerund after a certain verb may totally change the meaning of a sentence.

Verb + to-infinitive

Some verbs can be followed only by a ‘to’-infinitive:

Some verbs with this pattern:

verbs of thinking & feeling: decide, expect, hope, learn, seem, want, plan, intend, planverbs of saying: agree, promise, refuseother comtháng verbs: afford, appear, choose, fail, manage, waitWe agreed to go khổng lồ the cinema together with Ann.Steffany decided to take a xe taxi, because it was late.I promise khổng lồ follow your piece of advice.Last year Jack learned to play table tennis.She feels offended & she doesn’t want to lớn see hyên.

Verb + object + to-infinitive

Some verbs can be followed by an a object (a noun or a pronoun) and a to-infinitive sầu.

Common verbs with this pattern:

verbs of wanting or liking: expect, intkết thúc, would prefer, want, would likeverbs of saying: advise, ask, encourage, invite, order, persuade, remind, tell, warn other common verbs: allow, enable, force, get, teach

Verb + gerund

Some verbs can be followed only by a gerund:

Some verbs with this pattern:

verbs of liking & disliking: enjoy, like, love sầu, hate, dislike, fancyphrases with ‘mind’ – like ‘I don’t mind‘verbs of saying & thinking: admit, consider, deny, imagine, remember, suggest, recommendother comtháng verbs: avoid, begin, finish, keep, miss, practise, risk, start, stopI enjoy drinking my coffee in the morning.Yesterday we discussed going to lớn Italy on vacation.Your drawings are quite good, keep on practicing.Peter tried to lớn avoid answering his father’s questions.Have sầu you ever considered crossing that beautiful lake on a raft? 

Some verbs (e.g. mind, imagine, can’t stand, dislượt thích, involve sầu, miss, put off and risk) can be used with an subject before the gerund. If the subject is a pronoun, it is in the object form (me, hlặng, her, us, them):

We just couldn’t imagine Robert making a speech.Do you mind me sitting here while you’re working?I don’t want to risk her losing her job.

Tips lớn use verbs with infinitive & gerund

Here are some tips to remember.

1. Gerunds are mostly used when actions are real, fixed, or completedInfinitives are mostly used when actions are unreal, abstract, or future.

I enjoy cooking.

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He wants to lớn swim.

2. After a preposition, you almost always will find a gerund.

She is afraid of flying.

3. When you are talking about an activity, you usually use a gerund.

I quit smoking.Let’s go shopping.

Verb + infinitive sầu or gerund with no change in meaning

Some verbs can be followed either by the infinitive or the gerund without any change in meaning:

begin, bother, continue, hate, intover, lượt thích, love, prefer, start

Suddenly it started raining. = Suddenly it started lớn rain.Michael intends buying a bicycle. = Michael intends to buy a bicycle.The boy continued playing with his dog. = The boy continued lớn play with his dog.Margaret prefers meeting with her friends in a mall. = Margaret prefers khổng lồ meet with her friends in a mall.

The verbs ‘hate’, ‘like’, ‘love’ và ‘prefer‘ can be followed either by ‘-ing’ or a ‘to’-infinitive. The difference in meaning is often small. The ‘-ing‘ form emphasizes the verb itself. The ‘to‘-infinitive puts the emphasis more on the preference for or the result of the action.


love cooking Italian food. (emphasis on the process itself & enjoyment of it)lượt thích to drink coffee in the morning, and tea in the evening. (emphasis more on the preference or habit)
She hates washing the dishes. (emphasis on the process and no enjoyment of it)hate khổng lồ be the only person khổng lồ attover. (emphasis on the result: I would prefer not lớn be in that situation)
Note: When ‘hate’, ‘like’, ‘love’ và ‘prefer’ are used with would or should, only the ‘to’-infinitive is used:
He’d love to find some quiet place lớn live. NOT: He’d love finding some quiet place lớn live sầu.Would you like to go lớn the tiệc ngọt on Saturday?

Verb + infinitive or gerund with change in meaning

But some verbs can be followed either by the infinitive or the gerund with a certain change in meaning:

forget, regret, rethành viên, stop, try, need, go on


Mike regrets saying what he said to his teacher. (he did that and now he’s sorry about it)We regret to lớn inform you that the train will be 2 hours late. (we are sorry that we have to lớn say that)
I know Jane, I remember talking lớn her yesterday. (I talked lớn Jane and now I rethành viên that fact)Yesterday I met Jane & I remembered khổng lồ talk to lớn her. (I’d planned to talk lớn Jane, so I did not forget khổng lồ vì that when I met her)

— Some verbs connected with feeling, hearingseeing can be used with gerund or with an infinitive sầu without to:

feel, notice, see, hear, watch

— When used with gerund, these verbs emphakích thước the action in progress. When they are used with an infinitive sầu without lớn, they emphasize the action as a whole, or as completed.


She heard people shouting in the street.(emphasizes the continued or repeated action)heard someone shout ‘Help!’, so I ran outside.(emphasizes the whole sự kiện happened once)
I saw her crossing the street.(emphasizes the crossing as it was happening)saw Philip cross the street.(emphasizes the whole event from start khổng lồ finish)

Here’s a good video from mmmEnglish showing how verb patterns can affect the meaning of a sentence: