Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Some verbs are followed by ing, e.g. I enjoy swimming. We can't say I enjoy to swim. Likewise, some verbs are followed by to, e.g. I decided to make a plan.

Which particular verbs are followed by ing and to? Can you please provide a list for that?

Moreover, which verbs can be followed by both without having the meaning changed?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 30 down vote accepted

You can find such a list, for instance, in the Penguin Handbook.
The relevant categories are:

Verbs Followed by Infinitives

Most verbs are followed by infinitives. If the verb is not found in the list below, it is probably followed by an infinitive.

Verbs Followed by Gerunds

The verbs in the following table all need to be followed by gerunds.

The students don’t enjoy going over the same rules again and again.

  • admit (to)
  • appreciate
  • avoid
  • be accustomed to
  • be used to
  • can’t help
  • consider
  • delay
  • deny
  • discuss
  • dislike
  • enjoy
  • feel like
  • finish
  • get used to
  • imagine
  • keep (on)
  • look forward to
  • (not) mind
  • miss
  • postpone
  • practice
  • put off
  • recommend
  • regret
  • report
  • resent
  • resist
  • risk
  • stop
  • suggest
  • tolerate
  • understand

Verbs Followed by an Object Before the Infinitive Verb

I advise you to go to school early today.

  • advise
  • allow
  • *ask
  • authorize
  • cause
  • challenge
  • convince
  • encourage
  • *expect
  • force
  • get
  • help
  • hire
  • inform
  • instruct
  • invite
  • *need
  • order
  • permit
  • persuade
  • *prepare
  • *promise
  • remind
  • require
  • teach
  • tell
  • train
  • urge
  • *want
  • *warn
  • *would like

*Some words can be used without an object as well as with an object.

I want him to go. I want to go.

Verbs Followed by Either Gerund or Infinitive

Sometimes the meaning changes according to the verb used.

He doesn’t remember giving the homework to Mr. Young.
He didn’t remember to give the homework to Mr. Young.

  • attempt
  • begin
  • can (not) bear
  • can (not) stand
  • continue
  • hate
  • intend
  • (dis)like
  • love
  • neglect
  • prefer
  • remember
  • start
  • try

Verbs Followed Only by the Simple Form (no “-ing” or “to”)

Four verbs are called causative verbs. They are followed by an object; the verb after the object is always in the simple form:

  • let: They let him go on the trip (instead of “let him to go”).

I let him take my book home for one night.

  • make: We made her do her chores first.

I made my sister cry.

  • help: She helped her finish her homework.

I helped him find the bookstore.

  • have: The teacher had him stay after school.

I had my teacher explain the answers.

Verbs Followed by Either the Simple Form or the Gerund (no “to”)

Some verbs are called verbs of perception and are followed by either the simple form or the “-ing” form.

  • see: I see him go.

I see him going.

  • notice: I notice him run to school every day.

I notice him running to school every day.

  • watch: I watch him struggle with his homework.

I watch him struggling with his homework.

  • hear: I hear him sing.

I hear him singing.

Others including: look at, observe, listen to, feel, smell.

share|improve this answer
Most verbs are not followed by infinitives; most verbs do not take complement clauses at all. What they mean to say is that infinitives are more common than gerunds, which is true, and that there are many more infinitive constructions than gerund constructions, which is also true. But every verb is quite different from every other verb in its affordances, when you get to the details. Lists like this don't really help much, because there are always contextual and idiomatic gotchas. And some people will nevertheless take it as gospel. –  John Lawler Feb 22 '13 at 20:03
I think some of your "gerund verbs" there are actually participles. I'm pretty sure "keep (on) going" doesn't use "going" as a gerund. –  Joe Z. Feb 22 '13 at 20:47
@vonc: What about the verb Confident? –  Sudhir Jun 28 '13 at 8:58
"to stop" can be followed by both gerund an infinitive. The meaning changes drastically, though. –  Em1 Jan 3 at 10:04
What about "like"? "She likes swimming." or "She likes to swim?". Also, @JohnLawler nice exposition on raising and equi; it makes sense. "She likes to swim." = equi? and "She likes swimming" = ?? just a gerund object and neither equi nor raising? –  semantax Sep 17 at 10:53

Verb + infinitive/gerund is a chapter you find in any grammar of English. Unfortunately grammars only give lists and, of course, these lists can't be complete. If you are in doubt consult a larger dictionary. There you will get information whether a verb is followed by an infinitive or a gerund.

I think grammars should not only give lists, they should try to give an understanding of why a gerund is used and not an infinitive. Grammars are fixated on giving mechanical rules, but they should at least try to give an idea why things are this way.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.