Ok, see these example

I enjoy to read books / I enjoy reading books

I like to play football / I like playing football

I prefer to drink water / I prefer drinking water

He recommended to avoid bread when you eat at restaurants / He recommended avoiding bread when you eat at restaurants

You need to get some sleep / You need getting some sleep

There are a lot of explanation about this kind of structure but I have not seen anyone explaining like this:

I think, "V to do something" tends to be like a specific action "to do something".

For example, "I enjoy to read books" means "I enjoy to read books right now & I will find some books to read right now".

However, "V doing something" tends to be like a general opinion without linking to any specific action.

For example, "I enjoy reading books" mean "I enjoy reading books generally & It is not necessary to read books right now but I generally like reading books"

For example, "I like to play football" --> "I specifically like to play football right now"

"I like playing football" --> "I generally like playing football"

"I prefer to drink water" --> "There are a glass of water and a glass of cola on the table right now and specifically I prefer to drink water"

"I prefer drinking water" --> "I generally prefer drinking water to cola"

"He recommended to avoid bread when you eat at restaurants" ---> "He specifically recommended you to avoid bread when you eat at these specific restaurants"

"He recommended avoiding bread when you eat at restaurants" ---> "He generally recommended you avoiding bread when you eat at any restaurants"

"You need to get some sleep" --> specifically you need to go to sleep right now.

"You need getting some sleep" ---> generally you need getting some sleep because it is good for your health.

I am not sure my explanation is correct or incorrect.

2 Answers 2


Yours is a valiant effort, and if were correct, it would make it easy to determine when to follow a verb with an infinitive and when to follow a verb with a gerund. Alas, this is a matter of English idiom, and you just have to learn which verbs take which verbals.

Some verbs require a gerund:

I enjoy reading books.

"I enjoy to read books" doesn't work.

Some verbs require an infinitive:

I am pleased to meet you.

"I am pleased meeting you" doesn't work.

Some verbs don't discriminate:

I prefer to drink water.
I prefer drinking water

But I don't detect any difference in meaning in this case.


I will give you a small hint. These will help you a lot if you don't like memorizing. Just think about the sentence a little and you will find the answer.

Often we use 'to' when one action happens first then comes another one. They follow each other.

I decided to visit my uncle. You decide first then visit your uncle.

I need to get some sleep. You need first then you get some sleep.

Generally we use -ing for an action that happens before the first verb or at the same time:

I like playing football. Play and like happens at the same time. She denied breaking the school's window. 'Break' is before 'deny'.

There are some verbs that get the both but the meaning changes.

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