In Grammar By Irina

Gerund vs infinitive. Translation difficulties

Gerunds and infinitives — impersonal forms of the verb, which are often used interchangeably, but there are cases where the choice of one form or another entails a change in meaning. So, note that the gerund or infinitive?

In the case of verbs begin, continue, start, love, like, hate, intend and prefer the use of the infinitive (to do) or a gerund (doing) will not change the meaning of the sentence.

I like to swim / I like swimming.
I hate ironing / I hate to iron.

Now pay attention to the verbs followed by an infinitive or -ing use form (gerund) will change the meaning of the utterance. Here’s the list:

  • Forget
  • Remember
  • Regret
  • Go on
  • Stop
  • Need

Consider the difference in more detail in the examples with verbs forget, remember and regret.

  1. I will never forget meeting her. — I’ll never forget how to meet her (meet her).

    I never forget to take my pills. — I never forget to take pills.

  2. I remember talking to him. He sounded absolutely lost. — I remember talking to him. He was completely confused.

    He always remembers to call his mother when he is late. — He was always mindful of the fact that you need to call my mother, if it is late.

  3. She regrets not entering the university. Now she could have a better-paid job. — She regrets not go to university. She could be a better paying job.

    I regret to inform you that you have not passed your test. — I’m sorry to inform you that you do not pass the test.

In the cases of these three verbs -ing form (gerund) corresponds to experience the action that happened in the past, prior to speaking. So pay attention to the fact that the Russian version will be translated gerund past tense: «I met», «as he said,» «it has not arrived.» Infinitive infinitive is «taking pills», «call mom», «report that.»

By analogy with the verb start the vast majority of students believe that the use of the gerund or infinitive verb stop does not change the meaning of the phrase. WRONG! It is not!

Note the difference:

He stopped to call his friend. — He stopped to call his friend. (action occurred, the call took place)

He stopped calling his friend. — He stopped to call his friend. (action no longer occurs)

In the first case transferred to a piece of Union «to.» Gerund or infinitive is translated simply a noun. Another example of the verb stop:

I stop to have a break. — I stop to take a break. (a break occurs)

I stop having breaks when I have very little time. — I stop to take breaks when you do not have time. (no breaks)

In the case of the verb go on the use of the infinitive and gerund also changes the meaning of the phrase.


She went on looking for a job in spite of very few job offers. — She went looking for a job, despite the small number of proposals.

She worked for the company for a few years but then she went on to look for a new job. — She worked in the company for several years, but then began to look for a new job.

In the first case referred to the continuation of the action, while the second — the transition from one activity to another.

Here is another example:

He went on talking about his problems all evening long. — He continued to talk about their problems all night. (one action)

The TV presenter stopped talking and went on to introduce his guests. — Anchorman finished talking and started to provide its guests. (switch to the second action)

Next verb need. It can be used with an infinitive, and gerund. However, in the case of this verb is important to pay attention to who (animate) or (inanimate) in need. When it comes to things you must to use the gerund:

  1. Your shoes need cleaning. — Your shoes need cleaning.

  2. His shirt needs ironing. — His shirt needs ironing.

When it comes to people, then used the infinitive:

  1. I need to drink some water. — I need a drink of water.

  2. He needs to change his car. — He needs to change the car.

I propose to pass a little test to consolidate the material covered:



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