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Capstone Multilingual Writing Tips: Blog

August 2019: Verb Forms 1: Gerund or Infinitive?

by Paul Lai on 2019-08-01T08:00:00-05:00 | 0 Comments

Using the gerund form of the verb (-ing) and using the infinitive (to + base form of the verb) can be tricky. While there are some rules to follow, some usage is also idiomatic. This month, let’s explore some more common usage of gerunds and infinitives. Next month, we will explore these concepts a bit further.

The gerund (-ing):

  • The -ing form of the verb can function as a noun and serve as the subject of a clause. For example,
    • Writing is an important skill.
    • Transcribing takes a lot of time.
  • The gerund can be the direct object of certain verbs. Some verbs that are followed by a gerund are as follows: admit, avoid, consider, deny, discuss, practice, recall, suggest. For example,
    • I considered conducting semistructured interviews.
    • The panel expert suggested taking notes.
  • The gerund is used after a preposition. For example,
    • Before conducting the research, it is necessary to complete a literature review.
    • Her experience in interviewing will be beneficial.

The infinitive (to + base form of the verb):

  • The infinitive is required after certain verbs. Some verbs that are followed by an infinitive are as follows: agree, choose, claim, decide, expect, manage, need, offer, plan, prove, refuse, want, wish.  For example,
    • He expected to obtain reliable results.
    • I planned to recruit 20 participants.
  • The infinitive is used after certain verb + direct object structures. Some verbs that use this pattern are the following: advise, allow, ask, encourage, need, persuade, require. For example,
    • I advised him to stay. (Him is the direct object here.)
    • I encouraged the participants to ask questions (Participants is the direct object here.)
  • The infinitive is used after certain adjectives, including difficult, easy, impossible, and wrong. For example,
    • It was difficult to obtain permission to republish the table from the original source.
    • I did not find it easy to organize the literature review into themes.


Revision Tip: Look back through your most recent draft of your capstone document and check for correct gerund and infinitive usage. If you are not sure which is correct, look up the phrase in a corpus; see the SMRT Guide on Using a Corpus to Review for Grammar and Scholarly Voice. Make revisions as needed.

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