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Session 2

So, when is a verb followed by a gerund - and when is it followed by an infinitive? In this session you will do some practical activities, and listen to 6 Minute Grammar, to help you improve your knowledge of this tricky area of grammar.

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Activity 3

6 Minute Grammar: Verb patterns

Do you know all four?

When is a verb followed by a gerund, and when is it followed by an infinitive? If it can be followed by either, does the meaning change?

Alice, Finn and Catherine discuss these questions and more in this unit's 6 Minute Grammar.

Here's a question for you to think about while you listen. All the four verbs of liking: like, love, prefer and hate, can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive. But does the meaning change...? Listen to the programme to find out.

Listen to the audio

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Alice
Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Alice.

Finn
And me, Finn. Hello.

Alice
Today we're talking about verb patterns.

Finn
Yes: we're looking at what happens when we use two verbs together in English.

Alice
We'll be looking at four verb patterns - and there's a quiz at the end of the programme - so listen carefully!

Finn
So, on with the show! Our first pattern is: verb plus gerund.

Alice
A gerund is the i-n-g form of a verb - words like seeing, complaining and giving are all gerunds.

Finn
And here's Catherine to give us some examples of the pattern verb plus gerund. Catherine.

Catherine
I really enjoyed seeing Rachel again last night.

Jackie kept complaining, so I went home.

Would you mind giving me a lift to the station?

Finn
Thanks Catherine. So we had the verb enjoy plus the gerund seeing...

Alice
We had keep plus complaining... 

Finn
And the verb mind plus the gerund giving.

Alice
Good. Enjoy seeing; keep complaining; mind giving. Other verbs that can be followed by gerunds include: finish, practise, suggest, and recommend.

Finn
So I can say: I suggest keeping a list of verbs that take gerunds.

Alice
Haha, good example.

Finn
Thank you.

Alice
Now for the second pattern: verb plus infinitive. An infinitive is the word to plus a base verb, for example: to see, to drive, to study. Some examples please Catherine?

Catherine
I really want to see the football tonight.

My brother's learning to drive.

Mario's hoping to study medicine.

Finn
So that's: want to see, learning to drive, hoping to study... Other verbs in this group are agree, decide, choose and learn. Now for the third pattern: these verbs can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive - without changing the meaning. Some examples please Catherine.

Catherine
I've started learning Arabic - and my boyfriend's started to learn French. 

Finn
So started learning and started to learn have more or less the same meaning. Now, another example please?

Catherine
Snow will continue to fall in the mountains and temperatures will continue falling throughout the night.

Finn
So continue to fall and continue falling have the same meaning.

Alice
OK. Time for pattern 4.

Finn
Yes - and this one's a bit tricky. With some verbs, you can use either a gerund or an infinitive afterwards, BUT...

Alice
...and it's a big but...

Finn
Yes... the meaning changes from gerund to infinitive.

Alice
So if I say... I stopped drinking coffee last week.

Finn
Well, I probably wouldn't believe you...

Alice
Yes, well... this means I drank coffee regularly in the past, but last week, I decided to give up coffee. I completely stopped and now I never drink coffee.

Finn
But, if I say, on my way home yesterday, I stopped to have a cup of coffee...

Alice
This means that yesterday you interrupted your journey and you went into a cafe for a cup of coffee. 

Finn
So, very different meanings.

Alice
Yes. Here's an example, with the verb remember

Catherine
We remembered closing the door.

We remembered to close the door.

Finn
OK, in the first one, we formed a picture in our mind of us closing the door. The second example means we didn't forget to close the door.

IDENT
You're listening to bbclearningenglish.com.

Alice
And it's time for a quiz. Question one. Which is correct: a) They decided taking the train - or b) They decided to take the train. 

Finn
OK, so this is: b) They decided to take the train. After decide, we need the infinitive.

Alice
Number 2: a) Catherine hates cooking in the evening. b) Catherine hates to cook in the evening.

Finn
And that's a trick question. They are actually both correct, because after hate, you can use either a gerund or an infinitive.

Alice
Yes you can. Finally, number 3: is it a) Do you want to go for a coffee? Or b) Do you want going for a coffee?

Finn
This one is: a) Do you want to go for a coffee? Because after want you need the infinitive... but Alice?

Alice
Yes?

Finn
You said you'd stopped drinking coffee?!

Alice
Oh yes I did. Never mind. Thanks for listening and don't forget - there's more about this on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Grammar.

Both
Bye.

Finn
Time for a coffee?

Alice
Maybe later.

Both
Bye.

Download

You can download 6 Minute Grammar from our Unit 10 downloads page or from our 6 Minute Grammar podcast page.

So does the meaning change if the four verbs of liking: like, love, prefer and hate, are followed by a gerund or an infinitive? No - it stays the same!

End of Session 2

Well done! That's the end of this session. We hope you now feel more confident at deciding whether to use a gerund or an infinitive after verbs.

In the next session we're going to catch up with our vlogger Sunny. She's applying for a job as a tour manager, and you're going to help her write a covering letter.

See you there!

Session Grammar

  • When we use two verbs together, what form does the second verb take?

    Verbs followed by a gerund
    admit, advise, consider, discuss

    Verbs followed by an infinitive
    agree, appear, choose, decide

    Verbs followed by either, same meaning  
    begin, continue, hate, like

    Verbs followed by either, change in meaning
    forget, regret, remember, stop

Session Vocabulary