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When to use to + infinitive
1. After certain verbs:
forget, help, learn, teach, train choose, expect, hope, need, offer, want, would like agree, encourage, pretend, promise allow, can/can't afford, decide, manage, mean, refuse
I forgot to close the window. Mary needs to leave early. Why are they encouraged to learn English? We can't afford to take a long holiday.
2. The infinitive form is always used after adjectives, for example: disappointed, glad, happy, pleased, relieved, sad, surprised
- I was happy to help them. - She will be delighted to see you.
This includes too + adjective:
The water was too cold to swim in. Is your coffee too hot to drink? He was strong enough to lift it. She is rich enough to buy two.
The infinitive is used after adjective + enough:
amazed distressed glad reluctant angry disturbed happy sad lucky surprised curious
afraid touched delighted fascinated prepared upset depressed fortunate proud willing pleased
hesitant scared ashamed ecstatic interested shocked astonished embarrassed intrigued sorry careful encouraged
determined frightened ready alarmed disappointed furious relieved anxious eager excited
3. After certain nouns : - It’s my ambition to be a doctor (when a comment or judgement is being made) - It was a stupid place to park the car - This is the right thing to do
4. To + Infinitive is used to mean "in order to" that is, to express purpose You need to exercise regularly to lose weight. (...in order to lose weight) He works hard to earn a lot of money. (...in order to earn a lot of money)
When to use infinitive without “to”
1. After modal verbs: can, could, must, should, may, might, ought to 2. After MAKE & LET: He made me laugh Let’s go out. The teacher let me go home
When to use the -ing form
1. When the word is the subject of a sentence or clause:
Swimming is good exercise. Doctors say that smoking is bad for you.
2. after a preposition:
I look forward to meeting you. They left without saying "Goodbye” Are you interested in working for us? She made herself ill by not eating properly I prefer driving to travelling by bus Why don't you go out instead of sitting at home all the time?
3. after certain verbs: avoid, dislike, enjoy, finish, give up, mind/not mind, practise…
I dislike getting up early. Would you mind opening the window I can't imagine George riding a motorbike Sam suggested going to the cinema Sorry to keep you waiting so long
4. In some expressions:
My hair needs cutting It’s no good/use waiting There's no point in buying that DVD, you won't use it. You're too busy working It’s not worth crying It’s a waste of time asking I’m having difficulty/problems concentrating We spend a lot of time revising
Verbs which can be followed by either form without a change in meaning
Start, begin, prefer, bother, hate, love, stand… Then he started to talk / talking about his problems We intend to buy / buying a new house Don't bother locking / to lock the door
Verbs which can be followed by either form with a change in meaning
1. STOP No thanks, I stopped smoking one month ago
He stopped (what he was doing) to smoke
2. REMEMBER & FORGET + ing: a past action Do you remember switching off the lights? I’ll never forget seeing him for the first time + Infinitive: an action in the future Remember to switch off the lights when you leave Don’t forget to phone Mary tomorrow
3. TRY + Infinitive: make an effort Try to be a good boy, will you? I’ll try to be on time, but I can’t promise anything + ing: try as an experiment, to see if it works Have you ever tried putting some Mentos in a bottle of Coke? She won’t speak to me: I’ve tried buying her flowers, apologising, begging…
4. HEAR/SEE I heard him shout (complete action) I heard him shouting (action in progress) I saw them plant the tree (they planted the tree and I saw them do the whole job) I saw him planting the tree (He was planting the tree and we saw him in the middle of the job)
5. LIKE + ing: you enjoy it They like dancing + Infinitive: you think it is a good thing to do I like to go to the dentist once a year
WOULD LIKE Would you like to go to the cinema on Sunday?
6. used to + INFINITIVE Now you're just somebody that I used to know be / get used to + ING It was hard at first, but he got used to working at night