As ESL teachers, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of comparatives and superlatives…
Infinitives vs. Gerunds: How to teach the similarities and differences?
When it comes to English grammar, infinitives and gerunds can be a source of confusion for many learners. Both are verb forms, but they can be used differently in sentences. In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between infinitives and gerunds so you can be equipped to teach your ESL students how to use them!
Let’s start with some definitions
An infinitive is a verb form that consists of the word “to” followed by the base form of a verb (e.g. “to eat”, “to run”, “to sleep”). Infinitives can function as a noun, adjective, or adverb in a sentence, and are often used to express purpose or intention.
A gerund, on the other hand, is a verb form that is created by adding “-ing” to the base form of a verb (e.g. “eating”, “running”, “sleeping”). Gerunds function as nouns in a sentence and can be used as subjects, objects, or complements. They are often used to describe ongoing actions or activities.
Similarities between infinitives and gerunds
In many cases, infinitives and gerunds have similar uses. Take a look at the following examples:
1) Both can function as the subject of a sentence:
To tell the truth is always the right thing to do. (Infinitive)
Swimming is my favorite activity. (Gerund)
2) Both can function as the object of a verb:
I need to buy some groceries. (Infinitive)
I enjoy cooking. (Gerund)
3) Both can follow certain verbs like “like” and “love”.:
I like to watch movies. (Infinitive)
I love playing tennis. (Gerund)
4) Both can be used after certain adjectives:
It is important to be honest. (Infinitive)
He is interested in learning French. (Gerund)
Differences between infinitives and gerunds
1) Only gerunds can be used as the object of prepositions.
Example: He is afraid of flying.
2) Infinitives are often used to express purpose or intention, while gerunds are often used to describe ongoing actions or activities.
I went to the store to buy milk. (infinitive for purpose or intention)
She enjoys reading. (gerund for ongoing action)
3) Infinitives can be used in the passive voice, while gerunds cannot.
Example: To be loved is a great feeling.
4) Infinitives can modify nouns, while gerunds cannot.
Example: The decision to leave was difficult.
5) Certain verbs can only be followed by an infinitive or a gerund.
Verbs that are only followed by infinitives:
Agree – They agreed to meet at the park.
Aim – She aims to become a doctor someday.
Choose – He chose to take the more difficult course.
Decide – We decided to go to the beach instead of the museum.
Expect – They expect to finish the project by next week.
Hope – I hope to travel to Europe someday.
Need – He needs to finish his homework before he can go out.
Plan – She plans to study abroad next year.
Promise – They promised to help us with the move.
Want – I want to learn how to play the guitar.
Verbs that are only followed by gerunds:
Admit – She admitted stealing the money.
Anticipate – We anticipate having a great time on our trip.
Avoid – He avoids going to the dentist.
Consider – They considered moving to a new city.
Delay – She delayed starting her homework until later.
Enjoy – We enjoy watching movies on the weekends.
Finish – He finished reading the book in just one day.
Keep – She keeps forgetting to call her mother.
Mind – Do you mind waiting a few minutes?
Miss – I miss playing soccer with my friends.
Teaching infinitives and gerunds can be quite challenging, so hopefully, this article can be a tool to help you teach these two verb forms to your students. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends!