Infinitives and gerunds – Verbs of feeling and wanting

 

Common English verbs of feeling and wanting: like, love, hate, dislike, prefer, enjoy, want, need, wish, fear and resent.

Normal verbs

Normal verbs are usually actions; things that you can actually see somebody doing, and they can be used in all tenses.

Forms of normal verbs

I will refer to the simplest form of a verb, as a root verb.

Examples of root verbs: eat, sleep, run, cook, think, feel

I will refer to the form “to+root verb” as an infinitive.

Examples of infinitives: to eat, to sleep, to run, to cook, to think, to feel

I will refer to a verb ending with “-ing” as a gerund.

Examples of gerunds: eating, sleeping, running, cooking, thinking, feeling

 


Like and love

When talking about the activities that you enjoy doing, in the present tense, there are generally two ways of using the verbs like and love. They are as follows:

verb + gerund  / verb + infinitive

Examples

Correct

I like playing basketball = (like + gerund)

I like to play basketball = (like + infinitive)

My children love going to the beach = (love + gerund)

My children love to go to the beach = (love + infinitive)

Incorrect

I like play basketball = (verb + root verb)

I like to playing basketball = (verb + to + gerund)

Prefer and hate

When talking about activities that you prefer or hate doing, the same rules apply, as with like and love. This means that the verbs prefer and hate can be used in both ways, (verb + gerund) and (verb + infinitive). However, it is more common to use (verb + gerund).

Correct

He prefers walking to work = (prefer + gerund) = more common

He prefers to walk to work = (prefer + infinitive)

My sister hates washing the dishes = (hate + gerund) = more common

My sister hates to wash the dishes = (hate + infinitive)

Incorrect

He prefers walk to work = (verb + root verb)

He prefers to walking to work = (verb + to + gerund)

 

Enjoy, dislike, fear and resent

The feeling verbs enjoy, dislike, fear and resent, should only be followed by gerunds.

Correct

Most young people enjoy travelling to new places = (enjoy + gerund)

I honestly dislike watching football = (dislike + gerund)

Luka says that he doesn’t fear losing his job = (fear + gerund)

Maria resents giving Samuel a second chance = (resent + gerund)

Incorrect

I honestly dislike watch football = (verb + root verb)

I honestly dislike to watch football = (verb + infinitive)

I honestly dislike to watching football = (verb + to + gerund)

 

Need, want, hope and wish

The feeling verbs need, want, and wish, should only be followed by infinitives.

Correct

The technical department needs to address this matter immediately = (need + infinitive)

They all want to return at the same time = (want + infinitive)

We hope to complete the building project on time = (hope + infinitive)

I wish to see the manager = (wish + infinitive) (In this case, “wish to” means the same as “want to.” It’s just much more formal, and not so common.)

Incorrect

They all want return at the same time = (verb + root verb)

They all want returning at the same time = (verb + gerund)

They all want to returning at the same time = (verb + to + gerund)

 

 

 

 

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