Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gerunds and Infinitives


Here is a brief review of the differences between gerunds and infinitives.

  • Gerunds are formed with ING: walking, talking, thinking, listening
  • Infinitives are formed with TO: to walk, to talk, to think, to listen

Gerunds and infinitives can do several jobs:

Both gerunds and infinitives can be the subject of a sentence:
Writing in English is difficult.
To write in English is difficult.

Both gerunds and infinitives can be the object of a verb
I like writing in English.
I like to write in English.

But only gerunds can be the object of a preposition:

We are talking about writing in English.

It is often difficult to know when to use a gerund and when to use an infinitive. These guidelines may help you:

Gerunds are often used when actions are real, concrete or completed::

I stopped smoking.
(The smoking was real and happened until I stopped.)

Infinitives are often used when actions are unreal, abstract, or future:

I stopped to smoke.
(I was doing something else, and I stopped; the smoking had not happened yet.)
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