Infinitive or -ing?

English grammar (See all our English grammar tips)

Want to improve your English? Test our online English lessons for free!

Infinitive or -ing?

There are several commonly-used verbs which, when followed by another verb, have special characteristics:

•  Some verbs which are always followed by a verb in the infinitive: to want, to refuse, to seem, to manage...
Bruno wants to conclude the negotiations tomorrow.
I promise to do my best.
Susie expects to work all night on this project.
I refuse to negotiate with terrorists.
This seems to be a waste of my time.
I managed to catch the train.
The candidate happened to be my ex-girlfriend.

•  Some verbs which are always followed by a verb in the ing form: to enjoy, to avoid, to consider...
I'll consider hiring your nephew.
Horatio enjoys drinking coconut milk.
Would you mind opening the window?
Please avoid making silly mistakes.
I can't stop thinking about what you said.
I can't help loving you.

•  Finally, other verbs can be followed by a verb in the infinitive or a verb in the ing form:
I remember writing you an e-mail. I remember having written you an e-mail in the past.
I remember to write you e-mails weekly. I never forget to write you e-mails weekly.
I stopped picking flowers. I ceased to pick flowers, I ended the action of picking flowers.
I stopped to pick flowers. I stopped another action (perhaps walking) in order to pick some flowers.

Note: As a general rule, verbs of preference (to like, to love, to hate, to prefer) are followed by a verb in the infinitive if precise actions are being referred to (eg: I hate to end this conversation, but I have to go.), and by a verb in the ing form when permanent tastes are being referred to (eg: I hate ending conversations prematurely.).

Still having difficulties with 'Infinitive or -ing?'? Want to improve your English? Test our online English lessons and receive a free level assessment!


Do you have smart way of remembering this rule? A tip to avoid making a mistake on 'Infinitive or -ing?'? Share it with us!