One of the most common mistakes is deciding if a verb is followed by the -ing form or by the infinitive, 'to do', form.
Use the –ING form of the verb after ALMOST ALL prepositions.
- For example after: about, at, in, of, on, to, without, etc.
- He did it without thinking.
- She is very good at driving.
- I am thinking of retiring and then only doing what I am interested in doing!
- Careful with special structures like "about to do" and "used to do".
Often the –ING form of the verb is used when we focus on the activity.
- For example after such verbs as: give up, go, hate, like, love, suggest, can’t stand, dislike, enjoy, finish etc.
- We want to give up smoking.
- I love studying English!
- They hate cooking.
- With sports, or physical activities, we often use GO.
- Well at the weekend I go swimming, then I go running.
- They are going dancing tonight..
Often the infinitive of the verb is used when we focus on a 2nd action or subsequent result.
- For example after such verbs as: decide, expect, hope, learn, manage, need, want, would like/love/hate, promise etc.
- Two separate actions such as;
- She decided to go later.
- I need to study tonight!
- A following result such as;
- They managed to finish on time.
- She learnt to play it wonderfully!
- The infinitive can also be used with verbs that usually focus on an activity.
- I don't like studying (the activity) so I like to study (the 'result') first thing and have it finished!
- I love to make new friends when I travel (the 'result'), but I don't love making small talk (the activity) to lots of people first, it can be very boring!
Certain verbs are often used with both verb patterns but the meaning changes.
For example: forget, regret, remember, stop.
- We stopped to smoke a cigarette. (2nd Action)
- They stopped working (activity) and then smoked a cigarette.
- We stopped smoking. (Activity)
- They no longer do that actvity, they have stopped smoking in their lives.
- I forgot to save my Word document! (2nd Action)
- They forgot to do a second action, save the computer file.
- I forgot saving your Word documents was so important! (Activity)
- They forgot that the activity was so useful.
- Don't worry, I will remember to pay the bill! (2nd Action)
- They believe they will remember to do this second action.
- I remember paying the bill because the cashier was so rude! (Activity)
- They remember that activity happening.