GERUND OR INFINITIVE?

Part B: GERUND OR INFINITIVE?

B. Verbs where there is a clear difference in meaning:
Verbs marked with an asterisk* can also be followed by a that-clause.

come
forget*
go on

mean*
regret*
remember*

stop
try

Come:

Come + gerund is like other verbs of movement followed by the gerund, and means that the subject is doing something as they move:

  • She came running across the field.

Come + to-infinitive means that something happens or develops, perhaps outside the subject's control:

  • At first I thought he was crazy, but I've come to appreciate his sense of humour.
  • How did you come to be outside the wrong house?
  • This word has come to mean something quite different.

 

Forget, regret and remember:

When these verbs are followed by a gerund, the gerund refers to an action that happened earlier:

  • I remember locking the door (= I remember now, I locked the door earlier)
  • He regretted speaking so rudely. (= he regretted at some time in the past, he had spoken rudely at some earlier time in the past.)

Forget is frequently used with 'never' in the simple future form:

  • I'll never forget meeting my boss for the first time.

When these verbs are followed by a to-infinitive, the infinitive refers to an action happening at the same time, or later:

  • I remembered to lock the door (= I thought about it, then I did it.)
  • Don't forget to buy some eggs! (= Please think about it and then do it.)
  • We regret to announce the late arrival of the 12.45 from Paddington. (= We feel sorry before we tell you this bad news.)

 

Go on:

Go on + gerund means to continue with an action:

  • He went on speaking for two hours.
  • I can't go on working like this - I'm exhausted.

Go on + to-infinitive means to do the next action, which is often the next stage in a process:

  • After introducing her proposal, she went on to explain the benefits for the company.
  • John Smith worked in local government for five years, then went on to become a Member of Parliament.

 

Mean:

Mean + gerund expresses what the result of an action will be, or what will be necessary:

  • If you take that job in London it will mean travelling for two hours every day.
  • We could take the ferry to France, but that will mean spending a night in a hotel.

Mean + to-infinitive expresses an intention or a plan:

  • Did you mean to dial this number?
  • I mean to finish this job by the end of the week!
  • Sorry - I didn't mean to hurt you.

 

Stop:

Stop + gerund means to finish an action in progress:

  • I stopped working for them because the wages were so low.
    Stop tickling me!

Stop + to-infinitive means to interrupt an activity in order to do something else, so the infinitive is used to express a purpose:

  • I stopped to have lunch. (= I was working, or travelling, and I interrupted what I was doing in order to eat.)
  • It's difficult to concentrate on what you are doing if you have to stop to answer the phone every five minutes.

 

Try:

Try + gerund means to experiment with an action that might be a solution to your problem.

  • If you have problems sleeping, you could try doing some yoga before you go to bed, or you could try drinking some warm milk.
  • 'I can't get in touch with Carl.' 'Have you tried e-mailing him?'

Try + to-infinitive means to make an effort to do something. It may be something very difficult or even impossible:

  • The surgeons tried to save his life but he died on the operating table.
  • We'll try to phone at 6 o'clock, but it might be hard to find a public telephone.
  • People have to try to live together in harmony.