Verb + object + to-infinitive
English reporting verbs like tell, warn, remind and encourage, are often followed by an object and then an infinitive with ‘to’, like this:
Elena: Well, I told him to be nice to everybody
I told you to do it. The negative infinitive is formed with not – I told you not to do it.
|subject||verb||object||(not) to + infinitive|
|Marco’s mother||ordered||him||to get into||the car.|
|Elena||told||the children||not to touch||the glasses.|
|Verb + object + to-infinitive||Verb + object + that clause after||Verb + object + that clause after||Want,
+ object + infinitive
(+ that clause)
|Verb + for + object + to-infinitive||Verb + object +infinitive without TO||Verb + object + ing-form|
|Advise, allow, ask, beg, cause
Enable, expect, forbid
Intend, invite, Mean, oblige, order, permit
take (time), teach
(*) Could you help me to look for my car keys? I can’t find them anywhere.
He persuaded me that I should buy a new car
He recommended that I take a few days off of work
I want you to help me with this
I would like you to come to dinner
Could you arrange for someone to collect me at the airport?
|Verbs of perception (see, hear, watch, notice,…)
Let, make and help
Make is followed by infinitive with to in the passive
(*) Could you help me look for my car keys? I can’t find them anywhere.
They were made to return their tickets.
|Some of the verbs that are followed by –ing – see page below – (e.g. can’t stand, dislike, imagine, involve, mind, miss, put off and risk) can be used with a new subject before the -ing form. If the new subject is a pronoun, it is in the object form (me, him, her, us, them):
We just couldn’t imagine Gerry/him singing in public.
Do you mind me being here while you’re working?
I don’t want to risk him losing his job.
Most verbs of perception (e.g. hear, see, watch, notice) are followed by object + infinitive (without to).
- I heard him cry. (NOT I heard him to cry.)
- I watched them play. (NOT I watched them to play.)
- I saw her cross the road. (NOT I saw her to cross the road.)
Most of these verbs can also be followed by –ing forms. Note that there is usually a difference of meaning:
infinitive forms after these verbs are used to say that we hear or see the whole action or event.
- I once heard him give a talk on international politics. (I heard the whole talk.)
-ing forms suggest that we see or hear an action in progress.
- As I walked past his cabin, I heard him talking with his secretary. (I didn’t hear the whole talk.)
An –ing form is not usually used to refer to a momentary action or event.
- I saw the bomb explode. (NOT I saw the bomb exploding. The action mentioned here (explosion) doesn’t last for more than a few moments.)
Sometimes an –ing form can suggest repetition.
- I saw the children throwing stones at the dogs. (= The children kept throwing stones.)
Verbs followed by -ing
Some common verbs that are normally followed by the -ing form:
Admit, appreciate, avoid, consider, delay, deny, detest, dislike, enjoy, feel like, finish, forgive, give up, (can’t) help, imagine, involve, keep (on), mind, miss, postpone, practice, put off, resist, risk, (can’t) stand, suggest, understand
Examples: I always enjoy cooking, She keeps changing her mind about the wedding, We haven’t finished eating yet.
Verb + (object) + ing-form
Some of the verbs listed above, and some others, can be followed by object + ing-form: detest, dislike, dread, envisage, hate, imagine, like, love, mind (in questions and negatives), miss, recall, regret, resent, risk, spend, start, stop, stand, remember…
They can’t stand him driving his old car.
I remember you buying that jumper.
I dislike people telling me what to think.
I can’t imagine him working in an office.
Nobody can stop him doing what he wants to.
Prevent something (from) happening – Cleanliness experts say hygienic cleaning will help prevent germs spreading in the home.
Prevent somebody (from) doing something – She hid the car keys to prevent him (from) driving in such terrible weather conditions
Verbs change their meaning when they are followed by a Gerund or an Infinitive
Some verbs have different meanings when they are followed by a gerund or an infinitive.
|+ To infinitive||+ -ing form|
|Remember and forget||The remembering is before the action
I must remember to post this letter today.
The clothes are dirty because I forgot to switch on the machine.
|The action is before the remembering
I can remember posting the letter. I posted it on Friday morning.
I’ll never forget flying over the Grand Canyon. It was wonderful.
|Regret||Regret to do something means to be sorry for something you are doing
We regret to inform you that we are not taking on any new staff at present.
|Regret to do something means to be sorry of something that happened in the past
I regret spending all that money. I’ve got none left.
|Try||Try to do something means to attempt something, to do your best.
I’m trying to run this computer program.
|Try doing something means to do something which might solve a problem.
I tried clicking on the box, but it doesn’t work.
|Stop||Stop to do something means to stop so that you can do it.
An old man walking along the road stopped to talk to us.
|Stop doing something means to end an action, to finish doing it.
There’s too much noise. Can you all stop talking, please?
|Mean||Mean to do something is the same as to intend to do it.
I think Nick meant to break that glass. It didn’t look like an accident.
|Means doing something expresses the idea of one thing resulting in another.
I’m applying for a visa. It means filling in this form.
|Go on||Go on to do something means to do something else, to do the next thing.
The teacher introduced herself and went on to explain about the course.
|Go on doing something means to continue doing it.
The teacher told everyone to be quiet, but they
just went on talking.
|Need||I need to clean my shoes.
This means that I must clean my shoes, I have to clean them.
|My shoes need cleaning.
This means that my shoes need to be cleaned