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Gerunds and Infinitives

Posted in English Language by Joel on 26 May 2016

Gerunds and Infinitives. In this video we explain the difference between infinitives and gerunds. We also explain when to use each one. Remember, practice makes perfect!

TRANSCRIPT: Hey guys how’s it going? My name is Joel, I am a teacher here a Solex, and today I want to talk to you about something that a lot of my students hate me when I tell them we have to talk about it. I’m sorry. Today I am talking about gerunds and infinitives.

Now, the first thing we need to do is talk about what is a gerund and what is an infinitive… So I have some not so interesting sentences on the board, but they should be simple. And there is one mistake; hopefully you can find the mistake before I tell you. So, first thing: if you look at this sentence: I like reading. Now I always ask my students, “What is the main verb here?” And they should say: Like. And then I ask, “Is reading a verb?” And hopefully they say, no, reading is not a verb, reading is a gerund, with that –ing. It is more like a noun than a verb. We use gerunds to talk about activities or procedures, things that we do, right?

Now if you look at the next sentence, “I like to read.” What I ask my students is, “Are these sentences the same? Do they mean the same thing?” And hopefully my students and you as well, you will say, “ Yes, Joel, these are exactly the same sentences. They mean completely, exactly the same thing.” That’s true, but why do they look different? Well here we have a gerund, and here we have an infinitive. An infinitive always has the word ‘to’ and then a verb after it. Except it is different than a verb. Remember this is our main verb, our main verb is like. So both of these sentences are okay.

Now let’s look at a different verb. Let’s look at the verb ‘enjoy’. I enjoy reading. Again we have a gerund here. Is this sentence okay? Hopefully you say yes, this sentence is a beautiful sentence in English. Now, let’s look at the next sentence. “I enjoy to read.” Is this sentence okay? Of course not, this sentence is evil, it is bad, it is not good. Now you might ask why, and unfortunately the only answer is the verb enjoy cannot have an infinitive after it. There are certain verbs that can only take gerunds, certain verbs that can only take infinitives after them, and some verbs can take both. At the end of this video I will post a list of some very common verbs that only use those gerunds, infinitives, or some that can use both.

Alright next let’s take a look specifically at gerunds, and then we will look at infinitives. Okay, first let’s look specifically at gerunds, now I’m going to give you a small amount of time to find the gerunds in these three sentences. Okay, go……….. Okay did you find them?

Alright. One gerund, two gerunds, three gerunds. Maybe you couldn’t see this one down here, I’m standing right here. But this is not a gerund, and neither is this. This is the main verb right? In the present progressive, we have the helping verb here, and then the verb + ing.

So gerunds can be in several different places in these sentences and remember they’re not verbs, they’re more like nouns. Here, the gerund is the subject. What is fun? Reading is fun. It’s the subject of the sentence right? That’s pretty easy, and you probably already know this, you just might not now that it’s called a gerund. Next we have” we are talking about reading.” Now, ‘are talking’ is our main verb, right? And it’s a phrasal verb and it has the preposition about. And after a preposition, if you want to talk about an activity, you will usually use a gerund. What are we talking about? We are talking about reading. So again other types of prepositions: for, on, of, from. So on so forth. After a preposition, do not use an infinitive, use a gerund. And last, we have another verb that always requires a gerund. We are discussing reading. And here the gerund is an object. So again a gerund can be the subject, it can be after a preposition, or it can be the object of the sentence.

Alright guys that’s the end of the first part of our video which was all about gerunds. Next we will talk about infinitives and that video should be available soon. Alright see you guys next time.