Meet our Academic Team: Gerunds and Infinitives Grammar Lesson
We’re back again with another informative grammar lesson for all the English-language enthusiasts out there. This week’s lesson is provided by two of our Kaplan teachers, Brian Plaster and Holly Adams.
Brian teaches English at Kaplan International in Seattle. He loves teaching international students because it allows him to travel and experience the world through his students. Holly, on the other hand, is a teacher at Kaplan San Diego, focusing primarily on High Intermediate English and elective classes such as film, slang, and conversational English. “I love diversity! Therefore working in an international environment like Kaplan is perfect for me. I teach them English and they teach me things as well.”
Are you interested in studying English in beautiful San Diego? Or maybe a quirky and cultural town like Seattle is a bit more to your liking. Learn more about how you can study English at one of our USA schools.
Gerunds and Infinitives
This can be a tricky subject when you’re first learning English. But once you know the rules, you’ll be able to use gerunds and infinitives in your every day conversations! Gerunds are verb + ing and infinitives are to + base verb. But how do we know when to use each one?
Example gerunds: eating, drinking, sleeping, studying, leaving
Example infinitives: to eat, to drink, to sleep, to study, to leave
Let's begin with gerunds.
Gerunds are usually used as the subject of a sentence.
> Cooking is fun.
“To cook is fun” just sounds weird doesn't it? Gerunds are often part of a phrase which functions as the subject of a sentence, for example eating too much chocolate is unhealthy.
We use gerunds after prepositions.
> I drank coffee before leaving my house.
We also use gerunds as the object after certain verbs. For example, the verb “enjoy” can only be followed by a gerund.
> I enjoy traveling.
Gerunds can often be modified with possessive forms such as his, her, its, your, their, our, Sally's, etc. This makes it clearer who or what is doing the action.
> I liked her singing.
Now, let’s move on to infinitives!
Infinitives are usually used after adjectives and adverbs.
> It's difficult to wake up early.
Infinitives are also used to explain the reason why something happens.
> Students come to Kaplan to study English.
Infinitives follow many nouns. Some common nouns followed by infinitives are advice, desire, dream, goal, need, wish, permission, etc.
> His wish to be President came true!
Just like gerunds, there are certain verbs that can only be followed by infinitives. Some common ones include decide, demand, agree, learn, offer, plan, wait, want, etc.
> He plans to move to England.
Similarities between Gerunds and Infinitives
Gerunds and infinitives can both be used as the subject of a sentence.
> Gerund: Smoking causes cancer.
> Infinitive: To climb Mt. Everest would be difficult.
Gerunds and infinitives can both be used as the object in a sentence.
> Gerund: I love singing in my church choir.
> Infinitive: I would hate to sing on American Idol.
Gerunds and infinitives can both be used as a subject complement.
> Gerund: My hobby is collecting stamps.
> Infinitive: My nightmare is to take a bath with sharks.
Gerunds and infinitives can both be used as object complements.
> Gerund: My parents caught me skipping school.
> Infinitive: My teacher wants me to do my homework.
Differences between Gerunds and Infinitives
Gerunds tend to be about existing habits, experiences, choices, and dangers. You can think about a person by looking back or upon them.
> I enjoy eating dinner with my family every evening.
Explanation: This is something that I do regularly, and I am reflecting on my habit.
Infinitives tend to be about purpose, hopes, needs, and potential actions.
> I went to the grocery store to buy some bread.
Explanation: This is the purpose of going to the grocery store.
Now that you have a better idea of how to use both, take a look at the following sentences and find out if the answer is a gerund or infinitive!
Do you feel confident about your comprehension of gerunds and infinitives? Show us some of your new English grammar skills by posting some examples in the comment section. Similarly, if you have any questions, post them below and we will be happy to help you out.