015 Understanding Gerund or Infinitive After Specific Verbs
Hi and welcome back to The Art of Business English. In today’s episode we are going to focus on a grammatical issue, which many, many non-native speakers struggle with, gerund or infinitive after verbs. Most verbs, when conjugated are then followed by another verb in infinitive form, however there are some exceptions. Some verbs require the following verb to be in the gerund or -ING form. What I also find interesting is that many of these verbs are used in business and help us form commonly used business expressions.
So, how does this affect my English? Firstly, if you don’t use a gerund form after a verb which requires a gerund form it makes you sound less fluent. What is important to note is that in most cases using the incorrect form will not affect the meaning of the sentence, so a native person will understand you. However, it does sound a bit strange and native speakers will notice this mistake.
By the end of today’s episode, you will be able to understand the following:
- Which verbs are typically followed by gerund and/or infinitive
- When we can use both gerund or infinitive
- The difference in meaning between gerund and infinitive when using the same verb
- Prepositions and expressions followed by gerund
- Some common expressions used in everyday business English that follow these structures
Let’s just in and get started.
Gerund or infinitive
Firstly, let’s just make sure we have the gerund and infinitive clear. Gerund is basically adding ING to a verb, for example, eat becomes eating. Secondly, the infinitive form is any verb in English written with TO before it. For example, the infinitive of comer is To eat. Remember, we need to put the to in front of the verb for it to appear as infinitive, otherwise it looks like the imperative.
Now that we have gerund and infinitive clear, let’s take a look at the theory behind gerund or infinitive after verbs. After certain verbs we use the -ing form, and after other verbs we use the infinitive. Sometimes we can use either form and there is no change in meaning. Occasionally we can use either form and there is a change in meaning.
|+ ing||+ Infinitive||+ ing / infinitive (no change in meaning)|
- I told him you really enjoy working for the company.
- Would you mind helping me?
It started raining on the way to the airport. or It started to rain on the way to the airport.
- She decided to invest in the new company.
I wanted to finish the report.
The negative is verb + not + -ing:
Imagine not completing this project on time.
In the end they decided not to change supplier.
Using both gerund or infinitive
There are some verbs which can be followed by both gerund or infinitive and there is no change in meaning. The most common one is like.
I like working from home, there are less interruptions.
I like to work from home, it is more relaxing.
Gerund and infinitive after verbs with different meanings
There are some more verbs which can be followed by -ing or the infinitive, but the two options have different meanings, for example remember, stop and try.
- I never remember to turn off my computer (remember + infinitive = remember something and then do it).
- I don’t remember agreeing to this proposal (remember + -ing = remember something you did before).
- She stopped smoking three years ago (stop + -ing = to not do something any more).
- It was hot, so we stopped to have a drink ((we stopped walking) (stop + infinitive = stop doing something in order to do something else))
- Why don’t you try taking lemon and honey for your cough? (try + gerund = suggestion about what to try and see the result)
- I tried not to cough during the film, but it didn’t work! (try + infinitive = to report what somebody has attempted to do)
Prepositions and expressions followed by gerund
In English all prepositions are followed by a verb in ING. For example, I am thinking about organising a meeting first thing Monday morning.
Some of the most common propositions are listed below:
- except for
- in favour of
- in front of
You should check the oil before starting the car.
We also use the –ing form after these common expressions:
Be accustomed to
Be good/bad at
Be interested in
Be used to
Have difficulty in
Look forward to
John insisted on coming to the trade fair even though he can’t speak English.
Note: When a verb is the subject of a sentence, it is also in gerund.
- Smoking costs a lot of money.
- Reading is my favourite hobby.
Some common expressions for business
|Object to||I object to not having my opinion heard.|
|Be interested in||We are interested in finding new suppliers who understand our company’s philosophy.|
|Be for/against||The board is against paying a dividend this year.|
|Deny||The directors denied having lied to shareholders.|
|Mind||Would you mind listening to what I have to say?|
|Have difficulty in||We are having difficulty in understanding the conditions of your offer.|
|Succeed in||After months of trials we have succeeded in creating a perfect sales funnel.|
As you can see, there are many common expressions that follow the gerund after verb rule. It is very common to make mistakes with these structures, especially when using the negative form not + verb -ing.
The best strategy for learning these structures is through practice and application. Even though at first, they may seem complicated, the good news is that they are fixed structures, meaning, once you have memorised them they won’t change.
Be sure to study this material and take notes and if you do have any questions then shoot them over to us at the AOBE website or via our Facebook page.
As always, it is a pleasure to have you with us and we look forward to being with you again next week. Take care and have a great week.