Hi everyone, this is Abbe from MosaLingua. Welcome back to our series of English grammar hacks. In this video I’m going to give you several hacks for deciding when to use the infinitive form of a verb versus a gerund (infinitive vs. -ing). This is one often of the most difficult grammar concepts for English learners, but today we’re going to break it down and make it easy!

Infinitive vs. -ING

Infinitive vs. -ING: 4 Tips for Getting Your Verb Form Right (Video)

Infinitive vs. -ING: 4 Tips for Getting Your Verb Form Right (Transcript)

First, let’s simplify the terms I just used. You’re probably familiar with the term “infinitive.” This is just the base form of any verb. Basically this is what you’ll look for in a dictionary for example. Some examples could include “to buy”, “to go” and “to watch”. A gerund is simply the -ING form of a word, so “buying”, “going” and “watching”. Let’s jump into some hacks to help you decide which one to use in different situations.

Hack #1

Here’s our first hack: the two forms are sometimes interchangeable. You can use either form particularly after emotion verbs such as like, love, prefer or hate. So you can say “I love to cook” or “I love cooking” Both forms are correct! Then you have verbs for which only one form is correct. More often than not, using the incorrect form will change your sentence’s meaning or make it incorrect. This is often the case when you have two verbs in a sentence  and you need to choose the correct form for the second verb. Let’s say your two verbs are “miss” and “go out”. Which one is correct?”I miss going out with my friends” or “I miss to go out with my friends”. In this case, only the first example is grammatically correct.

Hack #2

As a general rule, we use the -ing form for verbs that are more abstract: consider, deny, fancy, feel like and miss. All express abstract concepts. On the other hand, verbs with the two form or the infinitive form, often are used to express concrete actions: ask, continue, help, decide, offer, plan, want. Of course there are some exceptions, but don’t worry about memorizing long lists now. The more you use them the better you will get at deciding which one to use. Let me share a couple more hacks to make your life easier.

Hack #3

Perhaps the easiest hack to remember is that the ing form is generally used after a preposition. This is true in about 80% of cases. Here at MosaLingua, we’re all about learning the 20% of grammar that will help us out in 80% of situations. Ready for some examples? “My mother is good at to bake cookies” or “my mother is good at baking cookies.” Is there a preposition? There sure is! In this case, the preposition is “at” so the second answer is the correct one. How about this one: “you should always wait one hour after eating before going swimming”  or “you should always wait one hour after eating before to swim” “Before” is also a preposition so you should use the -ing form. Other prepositions include: “for”, “by”, “in”, “about”, “on”, etc. So keep an eye out for these!

Hack #4

Our last hack today relies on our knowledge of different words functions in a sentence. In general if the word is the sentence’s subject or compliment, you should use the -ing form. Sound confusing? How about some examples? “My favorite outdoor activity is hiking” In the first sentence, “hiking” is the compliment and could be replaced by a noun. Or “Driving in the snow is difficult” here “driving” could be replaced by a noun and it would be the subject of a sentence. See? That was easy.

So, there you have it: some great grammar hacks to make choosing between these two forms a breeze! And remember: practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The more you use these, the better your English will become As always, subscribe to our channel to make sure you don’t miss out on any English grammar hacks or other great content. And don’t hesitate to leave your questions in the comment section. Happy learning, and see you next time!


You can also access an audio version of this article on our MosaLingua Language Lab podcast:

Listen to “#9 – Infinitive vs. -ING: 4 Tips for Getting Your Verb Form Right” on Spreaker.