Ing Form vs. Infinitive

A gerund is a verb + ing. It is used as a noun.

  • India has started producing atomic power.
  • She likes playing tennis.
  • Do you enjoy swimming?
  • I could not help hearing their conversation.
  • Alice hates having dinner so late.
  • I like working in my garden.

In all the examples given above the gerunds are the objects of the transitive verbs.

Gerund and infinitive

Infinitives are forms like to read, to write, to dance etc. The gerund is used for making general statements and the infinitive for making statements about particular occasions – especially after verbs expressing likes and dislikes.

Read the following examples.

1. Alice likes painting.
2. She would like to paint this landscape.
3. John likes playing chess.
4. Would you like to play tennis this evening?

Sentence 1 means that Alice likes painting as an art. It is a general statement. Sentence 2 means that she would like to paint a particular scene.

In the same way, sentence 3 is a general statement about John’s liking for tennis as a game. Sentence 4 is a question about playing tennis on a particular occasion.

Interchange of gerund and infinitive

Gerunds and infinitives are often interchangeable, both as subjects and objects of verbs.

Read the following sentences.

  • Playing tennis is good for health.
  • To play tennis is good for health.
  • Smoking is injurious to health.
  • To smoke is injurious to health.
  • Reading is a good habit.
  • To read is a good habit.
  • I intend to write a novel.
  • I intend writing a novel.

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