Gerunds and infinitives are forms of verbs that act like nouns. They can follow adjectives and other verbs. Gerunds can also follow prepositions.
A gerund (often known as an -ing word) is a noun formed from a verb by adding -ing.
• Reading helps you learn English. subject of sentence
• Her favorite hobby is reading. complement of sentence• I enjoy reading. object of sentence
Gerunds can be made negative by adding "not."
• He enjoys not working.
• The best thing for your health is not smoking.
Infinitives are the "to" form of the verb. The infinitive form of "learn" is "to learn." You can also use an infinitive as the subject, the complement, or the object of a sentence.
• Tolearn is important. subject of sentence
• The most important thing is to learn. complement of sentence
• He wants to learn. object of sentence
Infinitives can be made negative by adding "not."
• I decided not to go.
• The most important thing is not to give up.
USES OF GERUNDS AND INFINITIVES
1. When a verb follows a verb it either takes the gerund or infinitiveform. Both gerunds and infinitives can be used as the subject or the complement of a sentence. However, as subjects or complements, gerunds usually sound more like normal, spoken English, whereas infinitives sound more abstract. In the following sentences, gerunds sound more natural and would be more common in everyday English. Infinitives emphasize the possibility or potential for something andsound more philosophical. If this sounds confusing, just remember that 90% of the time, you will use a gerund as the subject or complement of a sentence.
• Learning is important. normal subject
• To learn is important. abstract subject - less common
• The most important thing is learning. normal complement
• The most important thing is to learn. abstract complement -less common
2. Some verbs can take either the gerund or the infinitive with no loss of meaning.
• With the verb start - "It started to rain." or "It started raining." Both sentences have the same meaning.
3. Sometimes the use of the gerund or infinitive changes the meaning of the sentence.
• With the verb remember - "I remembered to do my homework".or "I remembered doing my homework."
In the first sentence (I remembered to do my homework), the person speaking remembered they had some homework first and then carried out the action and did it. In the second sentence (I remembered doing my homework.), the person speaking carried out the action (their homework) first and then remembered doing it.
Other verbs only take one or the other,unfortunately there is no rule as to which form the verb takes. The same is true when the verb follows an adjective.
4. There are many "be + adjective" combinations that are commonly followed by infinitives.
• They were anxious to begin.
• She was delighted to receive such good feedback.
• He is lucky to have such good friends.
5. There are also many nouns that arecommonly followed by infinitives.
• It was a good decision to move to San Francisco.
• His wish to become an actor was well known.
• Laura's desire to improve impressed me.
6. Sometimes infinitives are used to express the idea of "in order to do something." (Infinitive of purpose).
• He bought the English dictionary to look up difficult words. in order tolook up
• Janine sold her car to get the money that she needed. in order to get
• Juan uses Englishpage.com to learn English. in order to learn
This idea of "in order to do something" is found in many English patterns.
7. too + adjective/adverb + infinitive
• The box is too heavy to carry.
• The television is too expensive to buy.
• Fiona ran too slowly to...