Is there a general rule whether to use the Verb + to infinitive or the Verb + ...ing format?

There are cases in which I can't decide which one to use. Like: -They can't afford to go out very often. -They can't afford going out very often. Or: -I don't mind to wait. -I don't mind waiting. Or: -It was a nice day, so we decided to go for a walk. -It was a nice day, so we decided going for a walk.


The infinitive should be used if it directly proceeds an adjective. Examples:

  • I am too tired to swim.
  • She was happy to help.
  • We are too fast to be caught.
  • etc...

The gerund form should be used if it follows a preposition. Examples:

  • I left the party without saying goodbye.
  • We look forward to winning the game.

There are, as with anything in English, numerous exceptions that may not seem obvious. Certain verbs require the infinitive form whereas others seem more appropriately conjoined with the gerund form. For example:

  • Would you mind getting me a towel? | (verb, gerund)
  • I forgot to bring my phone. | (verb, infinitive)
  • I regret sleeping with Josephine. | (verb. gerund)
  • She cannot afford to go on vacation. | (verb, infinitive)

Often times, they are interchangable:

  • He said he likes to smoke.
  • He said he likes smoking.

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