When And Where To Use Gerunds?

Gerunds after nouns

Some nouns and adjectives can be followed by preposition + -ing form. Nouns/adjectives that are followed by –ing forms cannot normally be followed by infinitives. But there are exceptions to this rule.

  • I hate the idea of getting old. (NOT … the idea to get old.)
  • I am tired of listening to advice.
  • She is good at painting.
  • We are confident of winning the election.

After some nouns and adjectives, we can use either an –ing form or an infinitive. Normally there is little or no difference of meaning. Note that if we are using an –ing form, a preposition is used to connect it to the noun/adjective.

  • I am proud of having won.
  • I am proud to have won.
  • We have a good chance of makingto make a profit.

Gerunds after prepositions

When we put a verb after a preposition, we normally use an –ing form, not an infinitive.

  • I am fond of watching movies. (NOT I am fond of to watch movies.)
  • John was arrested for stealing a policeman’s helmet. (NOT … for to steal …)
  • Can you talk without opening your mouth?
  • I am thinking of writing a novel.
  • You must abstain from talking to such people.
  • We got the job finished by burning the midnight oil.
  • We look forward to hearing from you.

To as a preposition

To can be an infinitive marker (e.g. to work, to laugh). It can also be a preposition. When to is a preposition, it is followed by either a noun or the –ing form of a verb, but not normally by the infinitive. Common expressions in which this happens are look forward to, object to, used to, prefer to, get round to, in addition to.

Compare:

  • I look forward to his next visit. (noun)
  • look forward to hearing from you. (NOT I look forward to hear from you.)
  • I prefer the country to the city. (noun)
  • I prefer swimming to walking.
  • I am used to waiting for buses. (NOT I am used to wait for buses.)
  • They objected to our entering the room.
  • I object to working on Sundays.

Gerunds after verbs

After some verbs we can use an –ing form, but not normally an infinitive.

 

  • I have finished packing. (NOT I have finished to pack.)
  • enjoy reading. (NOT I enjoy to read.)
  • You must give up smoking. (NOT … to smoke.)
  • The doctor suggested taking a long holiday. (NOT … suggested me to take…)

 

Some common verbs that are normally followed by –ing forms are:

admit appreciate avoid consider delay
deny detest dislike endure enjoy
escape excuse face fancy feel like
finish forgive give up can’t help imagine
involve mention mind miss postpone
practice put off resent resist risk
suggest understand

Some of the verbs listed above can be followed by object + -ing form.

 

  • dislike people telling me what to do.
  • I can’t imagine him working in an office.
  • Nobody can stop him (from) doing what he wants to.

 

After deserve, need and require, the –ing form has a passive sense.

 

  • The car requires servicing. (= needs to be serviced.)
  • You hair needs cutting. (= needs to be cut.)

 

Some verbs can be followed by both –ing forms and infinitives. These include:

advise allow can’t bear forbid forget
go go on hate hear intend
like love permit prefer feel like
propose regret remember see start
stop try watch

 

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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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