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Business English Grammar: Gerund or Infinitive.

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

Whenever we form a sentence in English with a verb that is followed by a noun that derives from a verb we need to know whether this noun is made up of the verb in the form of a Gerund (verb-ing) or an Infinitive (to + base of verb). For example; "I enjoyed working on the new project but wanted to try something new".


But what are the rules for when to use which form? Start with the exercise below to see what you already know already, then I explain the rules and give some advice on further practice.


Exercise: In each sentence, choose the correct form of the verb in italics;


1. After finishing / to finish my university degree I started working immediately.

2. I'm looking forward to going / to go away in the summer.

3. I expected staying / to stay in my last company for at least three years.

4. I worked at X until moving / to move to another role.

5. I agreed taking / to take on a new project.

6. I had not considered changing / to change roles until I was made redundant.

7. We risked losing / to lose the contract but managed to get it in the end.

8. They decided postponing / to postpone the meeting until after Christmas.

9. We have always strived offering / to offer the best products available.

10. There is no point in taking / to take them to court, you will probably lose.

11. I was determined making / to make the best of the situation.

12. I managed finding / to find a solution to the problem.

13. It proved being / to be a good move.

14. Before starting / to start in my current role I had already worked in several related jobs.

15. To run / running is a good way of relaxing after work.

16. I had always wanted working / to work for my current employer.

17. I’ve always been good at finding / to find new ways of solving problems.

18. I would never put off tackling / to tackle a difficult task.

19. Last summer I tried out following /to follow a new schedule.

20. I certainly wouldn’t turn down taking / to take on more work.



The answers:

1. After finishing my university degree I started working immediately.

2. I'm looking forward to going away in the summer.

3. I expected to stay in my last company for at least three years.

4. I worked at X until moving to another role.

5. I agreed to take on a new project.

6. I had not considered changing roles until I was made redundant.

7. We risked losing the contract but managed to get it in the end.

8. They decided to postpone the meeting until after Christmas.

9. We have always strived to offer the best products available.

10. There is no point in taking them to court, you will probably lose.

11. I was determined to make the best of the situation.

12. I managed to find a solution to the problem.

13. It proved to be a good move.

14. Before starting in my current role I had already worked in several related jobs.

15. Running is a good way of relaxing after work.

16. I had always wanted to work for my current employer.

17. I’ve always been good at finding new ways of solving problems.

18. I would never put off tackling a difficult task.

19. Last summer I tried out following a new schedule.

20. I certainly wouldn’t turn down taking on more work.


The Rules:


The Gerund is used in the following cases:

  1. After certain verbs - There is a long list of verbs that are always followed by a Gerund, a good list can be found here.

  2. After prepositions: this means all phrasal verbs and verb + preposition combination.

  3. After some expressions; "There is no point in taking them to court, you will probably lose". Other are; It’s not worth ______ , I can’t help ________,"

  4. As the subject of a sentence. "Running is a good way of relaxing after work".


The Infinitive is used in the following cases:

  1. After certain verbs - There is a long list of verbs that are always followed by an Infinitive, a good list can be found here.

  2. After adjectives; "I was determined to make the best of the situation".

  3. After too and enough: "It was to difficult to find the time"… "it was easy enough to learn".


Advice on learning these: Certainly learn the sentences in the exercises above, as they are all sentences that can be readily used in everyday speech. I would also suggest writing out your own example sentences with the verbs on the lists linked to above, this helps make your own meaningful sentences to learn and lastly, keep an eye out for the use of gerund or infinitives in your everyday reading and listening, this will also help to build your awareness of which is used when.


Best,

Joel

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