Verb Patterns


Verb Patterns
One of the most common mistakes is deciding if a verb is followed by the -ing form or by the infinitive, 'to do', form.
“-ing” Form or Infinitive

Using the -ING 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..
Using the infinitive (To + Base Form)
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!
Verbs that commonly use -ing and infinitive
Certain verbs are often used with both verb patterns but the meaning changes.
For example: forget, regret, remember, stop.
  • 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.

  • Forget
  • 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.

  • Remember
  • 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.