Most verbs can be followed by either an infinitive or a gerund. However, we put both an infinitive and a gerund after some verbs.
Some verbs can be followed by an infinitive or a gerund without having a change in meaning.
- I like to swim. = I like swimming.
- She started to cry. = She started crying.
Here is a complete list of all the verbs that can be followed by either a gerund or infinitive without a change in meaning.
- I can't stand to be late. = I can't stand being late.
- I will try to call her. = I will try calling her.
- We prefer to eat early. = We prefer eating early.
There are a few verbs that can be followed by a gerund or infinitive, but the meaning is different depending on if you use a gerund or infinitive.
Let's look at these verbs and how the meaning changes when we use an infinitive and when we use a gerund. Forget
forget + gerund = forget something that happened in the past (like a memory)
- I will never forget going to the beach with my family when I was 10 years old.
- She will never forget meeting her husband for the first time.
forget + infinitive = forget something that needs to be done
- I forgot to buy milk at the store.
(=I did not buy milk at the store because I forgot.)
- Did you forget to turn off the coffee maker?
remember + gerund = remember something that happened in the past (like a memory)
- I remember seeing her for the first time.
- She remembers watching this TV show when she was young.
remember + infinitive = remember something that needs to be done
- Did you remember to do your homework?
- I remembered to bring the cake.
(=I didn't forget to bring the cake.)
regret + gerund = regret a past action
- I regret eating too much last night.
- She regrets not going to the party.
regret + infinitive = feel sorry to have to tell somebody about something (formal language)
- We regret to inform you that you are fired.
- I regret to inform you that your application has been denied.
stop + gerund = stop a continuous action or habit
- She stopped smoking.
- Please stop talking.
stop + infinitive = stop something in order to do another action
In these sentences, we usually do not say the action that we stopped because it is obvious to the listener.
Detailed grammar points like the one you studied in this lesson are very important if you want to speak English fluently. They can be hard at first, but if you study and review enough, they will become very easy, and you will be able to use them naturally when you speak English. Practice by finishing the sentences below and then try making your own sentences. It is the best way to learn English fast!
- She stopped to eat.
(She stopped driving in order to eat.)
- We stopped to watch the Olympics.
(We stopped working to watch the Olympics.)
I forgot to _______________.
I forget _______________.
I remembered to _______________.
I remember _______________.
We stopped to _______________.
He stopped _______________.
I regret _______________.
We regret to inform you that _______________.
She can't stand _______________.
I like _______________.
He began to _______________.
We both love _______________.