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Thursday, 25 October 2007


G’day all!

There’s an absolutely massive thunderstorm going on as I write this, so I really hope we don’t have a power failure and I lose everything!! (I guess the trick is to save it after every sentence, which I shall do immediately!) I love thunderstorms, especially here in Oz – they’re so violent; the rain comes down in spades and the sky just lights up – amazing! I’ve just spent 5 minutes with Owen (he’s supposed to be asleep, but it’s pretty noisy out there) telling him about storms and how amazing they are, and how it won’t rain in his bedroom …

Anyway, welcome back Satya! How was your time at home? (I won’t comment on your post from Tuesday except to say thank you for telling us about such a personal story).

I feel like I’ve been a bit slack myself this week, but I do have an excuse – Tuesday was my birthday, so I decided to take the day off! Yay! I actually spent most of the day in Glebe, which I thought might be an interesting subject for a post, so I decided to take my camera as you haven’t had any pictures from me for a while!

Anyway, about Glebe! Glebe is quite dear to my heart because it’s where I lived when I first came to Sydney. In fact, I still go to Glebe for all the essentials (doctor, dentist, and hairdresser). It’s quite close to the city – I used to be able to walk to work in about 30 minutes, which was great exercise! The main street is Glebe Point Road, which runs north from Sydney Uni to Blackwattle Bay, and the suburb clusters around it on both sides.

Here’s why I like it; at the Uni end of Glebe Point Road is a huge shopping centre with a cinema complex, and at Blackwattle Bay there are wonderful views over the bay to the ANZAC Bridge and the Harbour Bridge beyond – in fact it’s a great place to spend New Year’s Eve.

The ANZAC Bridge, with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.

The other end of the ANZAC Bridge, looking towards the city.

There are some lovely old buildings, including St John’s Church (on the corner of the street where I used to live), the neighbourhood centre and the Post Office. And, all along the street from one end to the other are lots of interesting shops and restaurants. For the shops, there’s a British shop that sells all my childhood favourite sweets (VERY bad for the teeth!), an excellent bookshop, a really great fruit and veg shop that’s owned by a family from Italy and stocks wonderful fresh produce, plus all sorts of boutiques, antique shops and groceries. There’s a market every Saturday in the school grounds that sells all sorts of things.

St John's Church

And the restaurants? Well …the best Thai takeaway in Sydney (in my opinion!) is in Glebe, as are two really good Indian restaurants (I think some of you were beginning to wonder when I was going to mention Indian food!), plus numerous other cuisines. A Spanish chocolateria has just opened up that has the most amazing varieties of hot chocolate (including one with cinnamon and chilli) and is doing a roaring trade. There’s also a very nice French place (it used to be a great Japanese restaurant, then a pretty awful noodle restaurant, and now it’s French), which is where Chris took me for my birthday dinner – I’ve been saying for ages that I wanted to try it and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest! It was fantastic!

I do have a very sad story about one restaurant, though – it was a Greek place that we went to on my very first night in Sydney, and we loved so much that we kept going back over and over again; mainly for the food but also because of the owner, who we got to know well over the years and who was (and I’m sure still is) a really nice bloke. We got engaged there and even had our wedding reception there. Anyway, the owner decided he’d had enough, and sold it on – we went back once after he’d gone, but it just wasn’t the same, and now it’s an empty building with To Let signs in the windows … I know things have to change, but it’s sad to see it standing empty.

And Owen’s favourite part of Glebe? The fire station! Actually, they’re doing a lot of roadworks at the moment (a “streetscape upgrade”) so there are diggers and steamrollers and concrete mixers all over the place, which to a two-year-old boy is the best thing in the world! (It’s a bit of a pain if we’re in a hurry, because he always wants to stop to watch all the machines!).

Glebe Point Road - notice how all the buildings are a different colour!

Well done to all of you who had a go at the gerunds and infinities; I’ll start by giving you the answers to Monday’s questions, and then we can have a look at some of the tricky ones. And if you’re still with me after all that, there might even be some vocab from today!

OK, the homework:

These verbs are followed by an infinitive:
Can’t wait
Would love

These verbs are followed by an object + infinitive:

These verbs are followed by a gerund:

The next three are general rules that can help you

Adjectives are (usually) followed by an infinitive.

Prepositions are followed by a gerund.

Verbs that talk about how we feel (love, hate, enjoy etc) are usually followed by a gerund.

A couple of you were asking about the differences between gerunds and present participles – good question!

Remember that gerunds are NOUNS, so if we look again at the examples from last time, you can see that we can replace each of the gerunds with a noun:
Cooking is a really good way to relax / Tennis is a really good way to relax
• I really like cooking / I really like tennis
• I’m good at cooking / I’m good at tennis

Present participles, on the other hand, are parts of VERBS and so are used to talk about actions:
• I was watching a really interesting TV show last night. (The present participle watching is part of the main verb.)
• I got really wet walking in the rain. (This tells you what I was doing when I got wet.)

I would really encourage you to start looking for examples of gerunds and infinitives (maybe start by looking through some of the teacher’s posts on the blog here, and not just mine!) that you can add to the list above. I think the thing is not to try and do it all at once, otherwise it’ll be too much. Build it up slowly, and then you’ll have a record that you can refer back to when you’re not sure.

OK, so are you ready to have a look at the tricky ones?

Something easy to start you off ...

Start, begin and continue can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive without any change in meaning.

And now the harder ones ...

Have a look at these examples from some of my posts:

Ana Paula, have you ever tried to climb the greasy pole?
You try to run whilst standing in a sack.

Do you think it’s easy to climb a greasy pole? Or stand in a sack and run? No, it’s not!!

So, we use try + infinitive to talk about something that’s difficult or impossible.

Here’s a real life story for you – Owen really doesn’t like going to bed at the moment, so he always thinks of ways to get out of bed and come and sit with us.
• He has tried saying his leg is stuck in the bars of the cot.
• He has tried asking for a drink of water.
• He has tried telling us that he needs a clean nappy.
• He has tried complaining that there’s something in his eye.
• He has even tried offering to help us tidy up!

What does he want? To get out of bed
How does he do this? By testing lots of different tricks to see if one of them will work.

So, we use try + gerund to talk about an experiment or a test of something.

Go on

Can you see a difference in meaning in the following sentences?

• Rachel went on talking about gerunds and infinitives for 3 weeks!
• After doing gerunds and infinitives, Rachel went on to talk about vocabulary.

Which one means Rachel continued talking about the same thing?
Which one means Rachel started talking about a new subject?

Can you complete the pattern?

We use go on + gerund to talk about …………………………………
We use go on + infinitive to talk about ………………………………


Again, can you see a difference in meaning in the following sentences?

• I’m so sorry, Owen, I didn’t mean to put your teddy bear in the microwave
• Understanding gerunds and infinitives means working really hard

In the first example, we could use intend instead of mean.
In the second example, we could use involves instead of means.

So, we use mean + infinitive to talk about an intention.
We use mean + gerund to talk about what is involved in something.

And the last one for today – stop.

Here are some examples from my posts:

The Coogee-Bondi walk takes about 2 hours if you keep stopping to stare at the views.
Whenever we go down Glebe Point Road, Owen always makes me stop to watch the diggers.

In these examples, there are two actions:
Walk – stare at the views – walk again
Go – watch the diggers – go again

Walking is interrupted by staring at the views, and going down the street is interrupted by looking at the diggers.

So, we use stop + infinitive to talk about an action that is interrupted temporarily.

Let’s look at some examples with a gerund:

I’ll stop being mysterious and start writing
If anyone is really unenthusiastic about this, please feel free to stop reading now

Can you see the difference? In these examples we’re talking about finishing an activity, perhaps permanently.

So, we use stop + gerund to talk about the end of an activity.

Phew! I hope that has helped you and not made it more complicated! There are a couple more we should look at, but I think that will do for today and we can pick up again next time. And that really will be the end of gerunds and infinitives, I promise!!

If you’re really keen and want some more practice, you could:
• Write some example sentences with today’s grammar points and post them as comments for us to have a look at.
• Have a look on the web – there are lots of grammar practice exercises you can do online. Try typing “gerund infinitive practice exercises” into a search engine and see what comes up.

Well, in the time it has taken me to write this the storm has passed, my computer didn't conk out, and both my boys have gone to sleep, so I guess I’m off to bed too!

Back soon,


Oh, and not forgetting today’s lovely vocabulary …

the rain comes down in spades (expr)
slack (adj – informal)
dear to my heart (expr)
doing a roaring trade (expr)
pretty (adverb - NOT an adjective here!)
streetscape (n)
upgrade (n / v)
conk out (phr vb)


Hey up Rachel, I really liked reading today's post and I never noticed when I was at the end of the page. Oh, and yes, belated Happy Birthday:). I must continue agian, I liked the photos of the bridge and the buildings are just amazing, all are same in structure but different in colour. It's always so lovely to read about Owen, little children are incomplete without their antics. Here's my homework: the first example goes with Go on + gerund to talk about the same thing, and the second one with Go on + infinitive to talk about a new subject. I didn't stop reading your post when I reached at the explanations, I suppose. Instead, I kept on reading it until you finally said bye! Wishes. Naheed

Aha! So last Tuesday was your birthday?! Well, even though it´s a bit late I´d like to wish you... "HAPPY BIRTHDAY RACHEL!!!!" I wish all the best in this life for you. Hmm... By the way Rachel, did you have a birthday cake? Did it taste good? Yummy! I hope so :-). It´s raining here too. However, it´s a very light rain which is great for the plants and flowers in the garden. The weather has been dramatically dry recently, therefore the rain is welcome. Oh, Glebe is a fantastic place indeed. I´d love to visit there one day, and see all the breathtaking views, and of course go to the cinema complex. Oh, I enjoy very much visiting new cinemas. Actually, I´m a big fan of films, especially the classics, I collect them :-). Thank you for your explanations about gerunds. I´m going to have a test tomorrow, and this explanation helped me to make a recap on what I´ve been studying about it. Well, I have a go at the homework: Can you complete the pattern? We use go on + gerund to talk about the same subject; We use go on + infinitive to talk about a different subject. Sentences: 1-I have tried changing the wheat flour to oat flour in that chocolate cake recipe, but it didn´t work well. 2-Clara and Julia stopped talking to each other one year ago. 3-She told to her brother that she didn´t mean to hurt him. Vocab: the rain comes down in spades (expr): in a large amounts or to a very great degree; slack (adj – informal): lazy, negligent; dear to my heart (expr): very important to me; doing a roaring trade (expr):to sell lots of goods quickly; pretty (adverb - NOT an adjective here!): to a fair degree, moderately; streetscape (n): surroundings composed of streets; upgrade (n / v): to improve the quality of something; conk out (phr vb): when a machine suddenlly stops working. Have sweet dreams, Ana Paula.

Happy Belated Birthday Rachel! As for our homework, we use go on + gerund to talk about the same thing whereas we use go on + infinitive to talk about a new subject. As far as the vocabulary is concerned, these are my answers: the rain comes down in spades = it pours down, slack = lazy, dear to my heart = precious, doing a roaring trade = doing a lot of business, pretty = very, streetscape = an artistic representation of a street upgrade = improve, conk out = cease to function. Have a good week-end!

Hi Rachel. I'm pleased in your post again. These pictures are pretty nice and tourists should not miss these attrative screens when they pay a visit to Sydney. I wish I would travel to Australia the other day to eye the beautiful sites that I've ever heard about. It's true to work through the grammatical points if all they are for non-English speakers I guess. Anyway, there is no alternative for foreigners unless they keep trying and improving. I've ever touched to the grammar of gerund and infinitive before, so I hope I donot get the wrong end of the stick! To me, there is a slightly different meaning between the use of gerund or infinitive after "go on". We use "go on" + gerund to talk about something annoyed or boring whilst "go on" + infinitive still presents the same action/continue with different or new approach. Hope I make myself clear enough to anyone who reads my post. In the similar way, stop + infinitive to show an action is interrupted temporably, but stop + gerund to ask an action terminate. As you suggest to practice, here my examples: I'm trying to improve my English by all means. I'm trying finishing my post since it's the longest I've ever had a go. It's neccessary to go on to improve English usage. I hope we won't go on talking about gerund and infinitive next post:-) I don't mean to point your mistake again. Travelling oversea means preparing lots of stuffs. I stop to listen to his idea a while. Stop watching such horrible movie! Well, hope I put these examples right. Bye

Hi Rachel :-) Happy birthday dear Rachel, happy birthday to you. It's Friday today, but I didn't know when your birthday is. I share your feelings with you about the Greek reastaurant. I had a very similar story. It was nearly ten years ago and each time I pass the place I remember going there, drinking tea or coffee and having cakes. The owner was a young woman who tried to please everybody. But she got married and moved to another town. All the best.

Hi Rachel, Belated birth day wishes. It’s nice to know that Chris took you to the place where you liked very much especially on the special occasion like birth day and wedding anniversary. My wife very much wanted me to do like this. But many times I failed. After that I felt guilty about that. Did you taste Indian food any time? Do you like that? Actually we are in the monsoon in this part of India. It has been heavy drizzling for this whole week. But the weather is good. We get this kind of climate only one or two months, other times and all we will be in the very hot climatic condition. Gerunds and infinitive, I have been reading many times and referred some grammar books. I got confused when I referred the grammar books. Yours is simple and understandable . Could you explain little bit about past participle?

Hi Rachel!! Happy birthday!! As I'm always on a hurry,I forgot that you had told us that your birthday was in October! That's why I didn't ask you for the exact day of your birthday as to greet you!! But it seems to be that you spent a beautiful day with your boys! Good for you! Am I crazy or you have also told us that you were expecting a baby for Dicember? you see? I'll have to re-read your post to check it out! I have so many things in my head that I 'm constantly forgetting things. You should see my desk! It is full of little papers sticked on it for me to remember what I have to do, which I almost always forget all the same! Thanks a lot for your explanations on gerunds and infinitives, they were very clear! I've alredy checked the exercises and they were great! I'll have a go now at doing sentences: 1-Try -My motorbike doesn’t start! –Have you tried celaning the spark plug? -Los Pumas didn’t win the match against South Africa! –But they tried to score a try all the match! 2-Mean -I meant to do the homework yesterday, but I didn’t have time. -If you become the student blogger, it’ll mean writing your post almost every day! 3-Stop -My husband and I stop going out very ofen in the evening when we had our first child. - When we went to the beach by car we only stop to fill up the petrol tank. 4-Go on -You must go on showing us pictures of your life in Australia, they are beautiful! -The other day Satya mentioned a love story he had had and went on with a different topic which left us very courious till he developed it completely. And now the vocabulary... -the rain comes down in spades (expr) in spades: to a much greater degree, or in a much greater amount -slack (adj – informal) with less activity than usal -dear to my heart (expr) very important to someone -doing a roaring trade (expr) to sell a lot of something very quickly -pretty (adverb - NOT an adjective here!) fairly, though not completely -streetscape (n) the elements that make up the street scenery (its appearance, identity, and functionality, including adjacent buildings and land uses, street furniture, landscaping, trees, sidewalks, and pavement treatments, among others) The overall appearance of the street -upgrade (n / v) to improve the quality or usefulness of something, -conk out (phr vb) If vehicles and other machines conk out, they stop working or fail suddenly. Have a nice day!

Dear Rachel, thank you for your instrctive and helpful explanation about gerund and infinitive which are very confusing things in grammar. Now on I am trying to use gerund and infinitive in my writing to improve my grammar. Even if you stop talking about these, I will go on using gerund and infinitives. If I stop reading your blogs, how do I learn about these things. I stopped watching evening television shows because I don't waste my precious time. Rachel thank you . my kind regards

Hi Rachel. As I see I have been losing many things in this website. The English knowledge has allowed flourish my curiosity about other languages like Spanish but I'm back planning to do homeworks on the weekend, even though you have already published some answers. Bye

I have got a question about meaning of slack. Is it rude word and used to describe lazy people. I am not sure, there was a film called slackers tackling a bunch of group suffering from laziness. Many thanks

G'day Rachel! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!! (Pretty late though). How great to spend a birthday in Glebe! The ANZAC Bridge looks spectacular. I especially like the restaurants and Glebe Point Road with differently coloured buildings. I guess there are not so many buldings that have enough colours for them. oh, Poor Owen! he can't stop watching all the great machines :-). Luckily, the storm didn't make the computer conk out or we would miss the useful lesson. This is the homework: We use go on + gerund to talk about the same thing. And we use go on + infinitive to talk about a new subject. Best regards, G'night. Myen.

hello,my dear teacher.i am ruth and from china.first thank you for your clear explanation of the gerunds and present participals. i learned a lot.i have been learning English with bbc for about 2years and there is a question that has confused me for a long time.that is how to use"to" and "of".what's the difference between them?for example,in this sentence"Should she know all the words to the national anthem? shall i use "of " here? if you can help i will be very appericiated it.thank you.

hello~rachel i'm glad you've teached which is a confused topic .haha it's very useful , but when reading a long sentence ,i can't define this a gerund or present participle ,even i've asked for a foreign in the internet and they told me that "there is considerable overlap between gerunds and present participles in english so don't get too hung up on this" and i also found a grammar dictionary which is said it's not need to define what 's gerund or present particple , so i'm curious that is correct ? anyway ,thank you your help and since i read your blog ,i've improved so much !~!

Dear Rachel! I'm an English teacher and I use your posts and other materials on the site to find new ways to explain difficult grammar and vocabulary points to my students. You know, language is not only a way of speaking, it is a way of thinking. Your choice of teacing points and your explanations are very helpful. Thank you for them! But there is one thing that I can't pick up on my own and no one could explain it. Is there any difference in meaning between 'try to do smth' and 'try and do smth'? Thank you beforehand, Valentina

Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.

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