I am aware that some verbs require the use of a gerund in certain constructions like

"to avoid doing something".

However, does this rule extend to the case that avoid is also used in an -ing form? For example:

"By avoiding doing something, ..."

or do I have to write

"By avoiding to do something, ..."

to obtain a correct English sentence?


1 Answer 1


"By avoiding doing something" is the correct form.

Depending on the meaning required, verbs will either need to be followed by a present participle (gerund) or by an infinitive form:

"Preparing to do something", "I prepared to do something", "To prepare to do something", etc.

The choice of present participle or infinitive depends entirely on the preceding verb, and will be the same regardless of the form that verb takes.

(Note that there are some verbs where either pres. ppl. or infinitive is possible:

"I hate doing this", "I hate to do this"

Usually in such cases the meaning is different depending on which is used.)

There's more info on this here and here. The former gives examples of verbs that can take either gerund or infinitive, with a note of the change in meaning between the two.

  • While this is a vast improvement on mplungjan's (in a 'comment') in that it doesn't answer a 'Should I do A or not?' question with 'Yes', and is correct, some support from a recognised grammar say would be a big improvement. Grammar Geeks has:' “Thank you for considering voting.” It passes for me, how about you?' ... [not] two gerunds--isn't "considering" functioning as a verb? So, just as you could say "Thank you for considering me / lobster," you can see "Thank for considering voting" ... // A more authoritative source? Aug 29, 2014 at 8:29
  • Thanks, Edwin! I've added a couple of web references - I think the University of Toronto one should be pretty authoritative, and the other has some interesting content so I've added it as well.
    – Berthilde
    Aug 29, 2014 at 8:38
  • While they're excellent and valuable articles, neither seems to give a single example licensing say 'avoiding looking' (ie -ing form + -ing form). While logically there should be no problem for this particular usage, English and logic are often rather different animals. // Also, it's better to add an attribution and hotlink in an answer. Aug 29, 2014 at 8:46
  • Saying that the choice of present participle or infinitive depends entirely on the preceding verb is easily misleading since many/most of those verbs can take both.
    – msam
    Aug 29, 2014 at 11:51
  • @Edwin: Are you looking for Ross's paper on the "Doubl-ing" Constraint? The first page (free on JSTOR) states the problem and suggests what is known. Aug 29, 2014 at 14:59

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