Friday, December 17, 2010

Infinitives or Gerunds? Notes on Usage and Meaning


Adapted from English Grammar Online 4U.

There are certain words in English that are usually followed by an infinitive or gerund. If you are not sure whether to use the infinitive or gerund, check out our lists or look the words up in a dictionary.

Infinitives or Gerunds?

Certain words are followed by either an infinitive or gerund form, but the meaning of the word often changes accordingly.

- Same meaning.
  • After these verbs: attempt, begin, bother, cannot bear, cease, continue, hate, intend, love, prefer, start.
  • I started to read. / I started reading.
- Same meaning but different use.
  • Special cases: advise, allow/permit, forbid.
  • Infinitive + object: She allowed him to take the car.
  • Gerund, no object: She allowed taking the car.
- Different meaning.

Verb                   Infinitive meaning         Gerund meaning
/ remember         
with regard to the future
Remember to switch off the lights.        
with regard to the past
Do you remember switching off the lights?
go on start something new
Go on to read.
continue with the same action
Go on reading.
regret with regard to the future
I regret to say that.
with regard to the past
I regret saying that.
stop interrupt another action
I stopped to smoke.
terminate, give up
I stopped smoking.
try do something complicated
Try to solve this riddle.
do it and see what happens
Try talking to him.

- Infinitive (without to) or gerund.
  • Special cases: feel, hear see.
  • Infinitive meaning: to emphasize that the action is completed. I saw him go up the stairs.
  • Gerund meaning: the action may or may not be completed.  I saw him going up the stairs. I saw him as he was doing this.
  •  Special cases: go, come.
  • Infinitive meaning: to express a purpose. She is coming to show us the pictures.
  • Gerund meaning: in connection with activities. Let's go shopping, dancing ....

Gerunds - Notes on Usage


Adapted from English Grammar Online 4U.

There are certain words in English that are usually followed by an infinitive or gerund. If you are not sure whether to use the infinitive or gerund, check out our lists or look the words up in a dictionary.


Certain words are followed by an ing form of a verb.

- As the subject of a clause.
  • Cycling is great for your health.
- After certain adjectives.
  • After these adjectives afraid of, angry about / at, bad at, busy, clever at, crazy about, disappointed about, excited about, famous for, fond of, glad about, good at, impressed by, interested in, keen on, like, near, proud of, sick of , sorry about, ired of, worried about, worth.
  • He's afraid of traveling by plane.
- After certain prepositions.
  • After about (in 'how/what about'), after, apart from, because of, before, by, in, in spite of, instead of, on, without.
  • How about watching a movie later tonight?
- After certain verbs.
  • After the verbs admit, advise, allow, appreciate, avoid, can't help, can't stand, consider, delay, deny, dislike, enjoy, escape, fancy, finish, go (in go swimming), imagine, involve, keep, mention, mind, miss, permit, postpone, practice, reject, resist, risk, stop, suggest, understand, waste time / money.
  • I really enjoy cooking.
- After certain verbs with prepositions.
  • After accuse of, adjust to, agree with, apologize for, approve of, ask about, ask for, begin by, believe in, be, used to, blame for, care for, carry on, complain about, concentrate on, congratulate on, consist of, cope with, decide against, decide for, depend on, die of, dream about / of, escape from, feel like, forgive for, give up, insist on, keep on, look forward to, object to, pay for, prevent sb. from, protect from, put off, rely on, spend money on, spend time on, succeed in, suspect of, take part in, talk about / of, thank for, think of, use for, warn against, worry about.
  • We're really looking forward to going on vacation next month.
- After certain nouns.
  • After these nouns: advantage of, alternative of, chance of, choice between, danger of, difficulty in, doubt about, experience in, fun, hope of, idea of, interest in, opportunity of, place for, pleasure in, point in, possibility of, problem, reason, for, trouble, trouble in, use, way of, waste of money, waste of time.
  • We had problems finding our way back home.


Infinitives - Notes on Usage


Adapted from English Grammar Online 4U.

There are certain words in English that are usually followed by an infinitive or gerund. If you are not sure whether to use the infinitive or gerund, check out our lists or look the words up in a dictionary.


Certain words are followed by an infinite verb with or without to.

- As the subject of a clause.
  • Followed by the verbs be, seem or appear.
  • To know you is to love you.
- After certain expressions (without to).
  • After had better, would rather, would sooner, why not, why should I/you/... not.
  • "Why not go to the cinema?" "I think I would rather stay home tonight."
- After certain verbs (without to).
  • can, do, let, may, must, should, will, help.
  • I can swim.
- After certain verbs (with to).
  • With verbs such as afford, agree, aim, appear, arrange, attempt, be determined, beg, care, choose, claim, condescend, consent, decide, demand, deserve, determine, expect, fail, guarantee, happen, have, help, hope, manage, need, offer, plan, pretend, promise, refuse, seem, stop, want, would hate, would like.
  • She wants to see you before you leave the office.
- After certain verbs with interrogatives (infinitive constructions).
  • After the verbs ask, advise (+ Object), consider, decide, explain, find out, forget, know, learn, remember, see, show, teach, tell (+ object), understand wonder.
  • They don't know how to swim.
 - After certain verbs with objects (without to).
  • After make and let.
  • He made her finish the lesson before she could leave.
- After certain verbs with objects (with to),
  • After the verbs advise, allow, ask, beg, cause, enable, encourage, expect, forbid, force, get, help, invite, mean, order, permit, persuade, recommend, remind, teach, tell, want, warn, would hate, would like, would love, would prefer.
  • They wanted us to stay, but it was already too late.
 - After certain adjectives and their comparison.
  • After these adjectives: amazed, amazing, angry, astonished, astonishing, awkward, brave, careless, clever, cowardly, crazy, , delighted, difficult, disappointed, disgusted, easy, extraordinary, funny, generous, glad, happy, hard, honest, horrified, impossible, kind, nice, odd, pointless, relieved, ridiculous, rude, sad, selfish, silly, sorry, strange, stupid, surprised, wicked, wise.
  • It was impossible to go back.
 - After nouns deriving from the verbs mentioned above.
  • After the nouns effort, agreement, aim, appearance, arrangement, attempt, choice, claim, decision, determination, expectation, failure, guarantee, hesitation, hope, longing, need, neglect, offer, plan, preparation, procedure, promise, refusal, resolution, tendency, threat, trouble, try
  •  We couldn't turn down the offer to stay at his beach house that weekend.

Both, Either, Neither, Nor and So


Adapted from English Grammar Online 4U.

The following adverbs often generate some confusion. Read the examples below and then check your understanding by doing the following exercise.

- both ... and
  • I like both cats and dogs.
- so
  •  Jane likes cats. So do I.
- not ... either
  • Jane doesn't like cats. I don't like cats either.
- either ... or ...
  •  Jane either has a cat or a dog.
- neither/nor
  •  Jane doesn't like cats. Neither do I./Nor do I.
- neither ... nor ...
  • I like neither cats nor dogs.

In this amusing exercise, find out why some parents think that their teenage sons or daughters have a lot in common with cats.

  1. cats teenagers turn their heads when you call them.
  2. You would hardly ever see a cat walking outside of the house with its master. would you see a teenager in public with his or her parents very often.
  3. A cat doesn't share your taste in music. A teenager doesn't
  4. cats teenagers can lie on the sofa for hours on end without moving.
  5. Cats expect you to prepare the food for them. do teenagers.
  6. If you tell a joke, your cat your teen will laugh about it.
  7. If you make a sudden move in their direction, cats teenagers get frightened.
  8. Cats do not improve your furniture. Teenagers don't
  9. Cats roam outside and often come home very late at night. do teenagers.
  10. Conclusion: no matter if you have a cat a teenager at home - it's all the same.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Subject-Verb Agreement: Rules and Exercise

[S/V Agreement]

Here are some important rules for Subject-Verb (S/V) Agreement.

- A verb must agree in number with its subject:
  • Stress is a difficult word to define.
- Words that come between the subject and the verb are not part of the subject:
  • A person with anxiety and fears rarely has severe mental illness.
- When the subjects are joined by neither...nor, either...or, not only...but also, the verb agrees with the subject that is closer.

- Subjects joined by and are usually plural. However, when each or every comes before singular subjects joined by and, a singular verb is used:
  • Every father and mother likes to know what their kids are doing.
- There, here and where are not subjects. In sentences beginning with these words, the subject follows the verb:
  • Here is the information you wanted.
- A singular verb is used with words like the following when they are used as subjects:
  • Everyone, someone, anyone, no one, everybody, somebody, etc.
  • Each, either, neither.
- A singular verb is used with subjects that state an amount (for example, of money, time, or distance):
  • Two hundred kilometers is a long distance to be walked.
- A singular verb is used with subjects that are plural in form but singular in meaning:
  • Mathematics is too difficult to be understood by most kids.
- Use singular verbs when abstract nouns such as news, politics, etc. are the subject.

- A singular verb is used with collective nouns (group, family, team, police, committee, class). However, if the speaker is thinking in terms of the individuals that make up the group, a plural verb is used.

Underline the subjects in each sentence. Then, choose the correct verb(s) to complete the sentence.

1. Dizziness, as well as other symptoms, cause/causes great concern to the anxious person.
2. Neither his parents, nor his wife is/are able to help him cope with his problems.
3. Not only Anne but also her brothers suffer/suffers from claustrophobia.
4. Anxiety and fear is/are normal human emotions.
5. Every doctor and patient need/needs to identify what is causing stress.
6. Here is/are the books you wanted.
7. Nobody, not even the most well-known futurists, know/knows what the future will be like.
8. Seventy thousand dollars is/are how much the average car will cost in 2019.
9. Physics has/have played an important role in the development of modern technology.
10. The committee is/are looking into hoe to prevent the spread of the disease.
11. The committee is/are meeting today. I saw them enter the room a short time ago.
12. Statistics shows/show us that the crime rate is increasing in this area.
13. The class has/have completed more than half of the book.
14. The news is/are good: by 2030, world hunger should be eliminated.
15. Each of us has/have three basic negative emotion: fear, anger and depression.

Verbs: Perfect Tenses

[Verb Tenses]

Adapted from Andy and Audrey Jackson: Advanced Grammar Worksheets Photocopy Master, Prentice hall International (UK) Ltd 1995.

There are three perfect tenses in English. They all refer to an action started before a certain point in time. In the case of simple tenses, this action is completed.
  • She had studied drama before she went to Paris.
  • He has gone to Rome. He doesn't live here anymore.
  • The snow will have melted by tomorrow morning.
In the case of continuous tenses, the action may extend beyond the point of reference.
  • The fire had been burning for had an hour when the firefighters arrived and it took two hours to get it under control.
The difference between the perfect simple and perfect continuous can be seen in these two sentences:
  • I've driven fifty miles this morning. (a specific distance that has been completed)
  • I've been driving all morning. (a continuous activity that may not be finished)


Complete each of the following sentences with a suitable perfect tense(past, present or future, simple or continuous) of the verbs in brackets.

1. My fingers are aching -- I __________ (write) letter all evening.
2. I'm feeling really proud of myself -- I __________ (write) six letters this evening.
3. She couldn't help thinking she __________ (see) his face somewhere before.
4. I bet Ben __________ (not do) the washing up by the time we get back.
5. Can you give me a hand? I __________ (do) my homework, but I'm stuck on this exercise.
6. I __________ (not feel) very well lately. I think I __________ (overwork).
7. They're trying to break the record. By six o'clock, they __________ (dance) non-stop for 3 days.
8. If you don't hurry, they __________ (leave) before you get there.
9. I __________ (hope) to meet your boss, but I hear he's away on business.
10. They __________ (plan) this holiday for ages. I hope it goes well.


Verbs: Past Tense Revision

[Verb Tenses]

Adapted from Andy and Audrey Jackson: Advanced Grammar Worksheets Photocopy Master, Prentice hall International (UK) Ltd 1995.

The following passage revises the uses of the past tenses. Look out for the passives and negatives.

Put the verbs in the correct tense in the following passage.

Eventually, I (1)__________ (drop) off to sleep. the next thing I (2)__________ (know), the compartment (3)__________ (be) almost empty and the train stationary. Then I (4)__________ (realize) that the parcel (5)__________ (go)! I (6)__________ (wonder) which of the passengers (7)__________ (take) it, and if they (8)__________ (get) a shock when they (9)__________ (open) it. My watch (10)__________ (say) 3 a.m. We (11)__________ (reach) the border and the paper (12)__________ (be) still in my pocket. Then I (13)__________ (hear) heavy boots on the ground beside the carriage. I (14)__________ (run) to the toilet, (15)__________ (sit) on the seat and (16)__________ (stuff) the precious paper down the back of the mirror. I (17)__________ (sit) for what (18)__________ (seem) an eternity when a sharp rap (19)__________ (sound) on the door and it (20)__________ (kick) open by an angry-looking soldier. For a moment we (21)__________ (stare) at each other, but then he (22)__________ (mutter) an apology and (23)__________ (close) the door again. (24)_____ he _____ (see) the paper, I (25)__________ (wonder)? If he (26)__________ (see) it, he (27)__________ (take) it to his commanding officer, surely! I (28)__________ (take) the paper from its hiding place and (29)__________ (return) to my compartment. A moment later, a man in plain clothes (30)__________ (come) in, flanked by policemen. I (31)__________ (order) to hand over my passport and notebook. My heart (31)__________ (beat) wildly as they (33)__________ (search) through the papers. If only I (34)__________ (destroy) the incriminating papers which now (35)__________ (burn) a hole in my left shoe. But miraculously, my passport and papers (36)__________ (return) to me and I  (37)__________ (question) or (38)__________ (search). My precious paper (39)__________ (find) and hopefully I (40)__________ (be able) to deliver it in person.