Thursday, April 11, 2013

After Yoga - gerunds & infinitives

Tom & Maria STOPPED TO GET some coffee after their yoga session and chatted
for hours. They STOPPED TALKING when it was time for Maria to get home to
Staten Island & get ready for work. This is a shot of Lower Manhattan from the ferry.

In this lesson on GERUNDS & INFINITIVES, we'll talk about verbs that can be followed by EITHER a gerund OR an infinitive. For some of these verbs, it doesn't matter if they are followed by a gerund or an infinitive; the meaning of the sentence stays the same. For some of these verbs, on the other hand, the meanings of the sentences change depending on whether they are followed by a gerund or an infinitive.

Read the story below and note the capitalized phrases. Can you tell which verbs can be followed by a gerund or an infinitive without a change in meaning? If the meaning changes, can you tell the differences in their meaning?

Btw, if you haven't seen our previous posts on gerunds and infinitives, check them out first: The Introduction explains this grammar point, and The First Couple of Dates is where our story begins, and it has some basic examples with commonly used verbs. 


Tom didn't think he'd like yoga at all. It just didn't seem like HIS CUP OF TEA (something he would enjoy). However, as he attempted downward dog and the lotus and monkey POSES (positions), he actually STARTED ENJOYING himself. He's a competitive type of person, and he LOVED BEING challenged by something new. He would have PREFERRED TO PLAY tennis or go canoeing on the Hudson, but Maria made the suggestion first, so he decided to go along with it. Besides, they can always play tennis or go canoeing some other time, he thought.

After the mass yoga session at Bryant Park, they went to a nearby cafe to get some coffee. They were standing in line when he realized he had FORGOTTEN TO BRING his wallet. Yikes! He felt embarrassed and was about to tell Maria the situation when he suddenly found a 10-dollar bill in his jacket pocket. Yes! Of course, he doesn't REMEMBER PUTTING the money there, but he knows he never REMEMBERS TO CLEAN OUT his pockets at the end of the day. It was probably change from a purchase he'd made in the past. He didn't think he'd ever FORGET PUTTING ten dollars in his pocket but apparently, he did.

Well, however the money got in his pocket, what a relief! He gladly paid for his coffee and Maria's tea and WENT ON TO LOOK FOR a nice table to sit and rest. When he found one, he noticed Maria had STOPPED TO TALK to some friends at another table. He was about to pick up his drink and join them, but Maria STOPPED TALKING and walked toward him. They sat and chatted for a couple of hours, then Maria had to head home to Staten Island to get ready for work. Tom had nothing planned for the evening, so he decided to make the trip to Staten Island with Maria and head right back. Besides, he'd never been on the Staten Island Ferry before. 

"I can't believe you've never been on the Staten Island Ferry before!" Maria said as they watched Lower Manhattan from the back of the boat. "How long have you lived in New York?"

"I've been here for 8 years; I just haven't had the need or felt the urge to go there," Tom explained. "I've been to Governor's Island though and have taken the free ferry there a couple of times.

"Well, that's not the same," Maria said, "but now that you've taken the Staten Island Ferry, you can call yourself a real New Yorker."

"Finally!" said Tom. "I knew something was missing." The two had gotten comfortable with each other and WENT ON CRACKING JOKES until they got to Staten Island, where Maria ran home to get ready for work, and Tom waited for the next ferry back to Manhattan.

... to be continued.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that. What do you think happens next? Stay tuned! For now, here are the verbs in the story that are followed by either a GERUND or an INFINITIVE.

This first group can be followed by a gerund or an infinitive with no change in meaning:
  • He STARTED enjoying / He STARTED to enjoy.
  • He LOVED being challenged / He LOVED to be challenged
  • He would have PREFERRED to play tennis ... / He would have PREFERRED playing tennis

On the other hand, the following verbs change the meaning of the sentence depending on whether they are followed by a gerund or an infinitive.

FORGET + INFINITIVE means to forget to perform an action, while FORGET + GERUND means to forget an action already done in the past.
  • He had FORGOTTEN to bring his wallet. (He forgot to do it.)
  • He didn't think he'd FORGET putting $10 in his pocket. (He didn't think he'd forget doing something in the past.)
REMEMBER has the same idea as FORGET.
  • He doesn't REMEMBER PUTTING the money there. (He doesn't remember an action in the past.)
  • He never REMEMBERS to empty his pockets. (He never remembers to do something.)

STOP + INFINITIVE means to stop in order to perform an action, while STOP + GERUND means to stop something one is already doing.
  • She STOPPED to talk to some friends. (She stopped walking in order to talk to some people.)
  • She STOPPED TALKING. (She was talking then she stopped.)

GO ON + INFINITIVE talks about what happened next or in the future. GO ON + GERUND means to continue doing something.
  • He WENT ON TO LOOK FOR a table. (This is what he did next after paying for the drinks.)
  • They WENT ON CRACKING JOKES. (There were already cracking jokes and they continued doing it.)


1. When you are working or studying, do you often STOP TO TAKE breaks?
     [I usually don't STOP TO TAKE breaks. I usually try to finish what I'm doing first before I take a break. Hmm. I should really change that, shouldn't I?]

2. What was the last bad habit you STOPPED DOING?
    [I thought I've STOPPED SNOOZING my alarm clock too many times in the morning, but I actually haven't. :-| ]

3. What's the best thing you REMEMBER DOING as a kid in the summer?
     [I REMEMBER SPENDING a lot of time at the beach.] 

4. Do you always REMEMBER TO CHARGE your cell phone?

     [Unfortunately, no. I don't always REMEMBER TO CHARGE my cell phone, and I've had to charge it at the last minute on quite a few occasions.]

To practice your English, you should answer the questions in complete sentences, as in the examples, and share your answers here, on the NYLC page on Facebook, or @NYLangCenter on Twitter. If you found this lesson useful, you can use the buttons below to share it with your friends. Thanks, and catch you next time! :-)

-- Joe Yu, ESL instructor

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