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Grammar: Infinitive or Gerund?

Is it "I suggest running away" or "I suggest to run away"? When do we choose "running" and when do we choose "to run"? This post explains all.

Test your knowledge

Let's see how much we already know.

For the following sentences, which choice would you make? The infinitive, the gerund, or the bare infinitive?

  • I'm very good at to play / playing / play the piano.
  • She's taken up to sing / singing / sing.
  • In effect, larger county population size, a higher proportion of black residents in the population, lower median income, and greater disparities in income all appear to be / being / be reliably associated with an elevated ratio of police shooting rate against unarmed black individuals relative to unarmed—and even armed—whites.

Check answers.

As we see, the infinitive is the verb with the word 'to' ("to play"), the bare infinitive is just the infinitive without the word 'to' ("play"), and a gerund is the -ing form of a verb ("playing").

So, after a preposition we choose ___________.

So, after the verb "appear" we choose ______________.

Check answers.

Other rules for choosing a gerund or an infinitive

Luckily, there's other rules for choosing between the infinite, the bare infinitive, or the gerund. Let's discover them together.

Choose the correct verb form (gerund, infinitive, or bare infinitive) for the sentences below.

  1.  ___________ to music can change how we feel. (listen)
  2. I don’t mind ____________ in public. (sing)
  3. It’s difficult ________________ when there’s loud music playing on the radio. (concentrate)
  4. I listen to music _________ me relax. (help)
  5. I’ve never learned _________ a musical instrument. (play)
  6. I can’t ___________ when there’s loud music playing the radio. (concentrate)
  7. Play some nice music and make me _________ happy. (feel)
Can you guess any more rules from the sentences above?

Check answers.

Certain verbs have their own rules

Some verbs should be followed by a gerund, others by an infinitive, and others by the bare infinitive. The choice depends on the verb itself, so let's test our verb knowledge together!

Some verbs are followed by an infinitive, some by a gerund, and some by the bare infinitive. Match the verbs below to what comes after. The word "deny" has been done for you.

  • Deny (e.g. I deny stealing the purse.)

Bare Infinitive

  • Admit
  • Deny
  • Might
  • Mind
  • Miss
  • Practice
  • Recommend
  • Regret
  • Spend
  • Suggest
  • Teach
  • Want
  • Happen
  • Expect
  • Arrange
  • Appear
  • Agree
  • Choose
  • Make
  • Let

Check answers.

!Challenge Exercise

The word "make" can be followed by either the bare infinitive or infinitive. How do you know which to choose?

If we look at the two sentences below, the first one has the word "made" followed by the bare infinitive. The other has the word "made" followed by the infinitive.

Answer the questions below to discover the difference.

She made them do the dishes.
  • Who performed the action "made"?
  • Is this sentence in active or passive voice?

They were made to wear a uniform.
  • Who performed the action "made"?
  • Is this sentence in active or passive voice?
Check answers. 

If necessary, click here to review the active and passive voice.

So, in passive voice, we use the _______________ for the word "made". 

So, in the active voice, we use the _____________ for the word "made". 

Check answers.


Final Remarks

Any questions or comments, feel free to leave in the space below!


  1. This is really comprehensively explained and very helpful post for English grammar gerund. Thanks a lot for sharing such a nice post and keep it up. I am really looking forward to more from you.

    1. Thank you very much! I will keep posting more lessons and if you have any requests, feel free to share. Your kind words are inspiring.



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