What are the correct tenses to use in the following sentence between gerund and infinitive?

What I do at this point is ____ home and _____ dinner.

Should I write:

  • What I do at this point is going home and having dinner
  • What I do at this point is go home and have dinner
  • What I do at this point is going home and have dinner
  • What I do at this point is go home and having dinner

If not clear enough, the specific concern of the question is: after the form "What I do at this point is..." what is the correct tense to use, gerund or infinitive? And then in the following "and" clause, what is the correct tense to use, gerund or infinitive?

Related questions, but none fitting the case:

Other references, more fitting:

  • 5
    Please add research. A related question is "What I want to do is read this book."?. Here, 'What I do at this point is go home and have dinner' is a deleted version of 'What I do at this point is I go home and have dinner'. Try this expansion with your other suggestions. Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 9:37
  • I am not sure this is a duplicate of the question you linked. In that link the main verb is the verb "to want" that requires the following verb to be in infinitive form, which determines the answer.
    – Luke
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 9:43
  • The "main verb", as you meant it, is "to read" (not, to want) in the question suggested by @EdwinAshworth.
    – satnam
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 9:49
  • Just quoting the answerer of that question: "The reason why read and not reading is correct here is that want takes an infinitive complement, not a gerund." So the verb to want is the main verb, to read is the complement.
    – Luke
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 9:53
  • Only your second example is correct. It is a 'fused' relative construction where "what I do at this point" is a noun phrase where fused "what" means "the thing which".
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 10:37

2 Answers 2


All of your sentences are incorrect. Usage of "What I do is" not right. It is usually used in verbal mannerisms and is colloquial. Best usage of "What I do is" would be in this way, "What I do is none of your business." or "What I do is important but what I say is." I hope you understood this context.

Coming to your query, if you are trying to use sentences to describe your daily chores, routine or a pattern then you can use the following:

  1. At this point I usually go home and have dinner.
  2. At this point, I am supposed to be going home for dinner.

Let me know if you have any queries.

  • "What I do is" may or may not be grammatically correct, but I have certainly heard it used in this context. For instance: someone explaining how they perform a process: "What I do at this point is copy the text and paste it into the document"
    – bendl
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 15:00

If this sentence is to describe something you do regularly, then sentence number 2 is correct.

If the sentence is describing something that is not done all the time, then a better version of the sentence would be correct the first part of the sentence also -- changing it to, "What I am going to do at this point."

“What I am going to do at this point is go home and have dinner.”

“What I am going to do at this point is (to) go home and (to) have dinner.” (I added the “to” in parenthesis because it’s ok to leave it out when you say the sentence, but in reality, it’s supposed to be there.)

“Going home” is the present progressive tense of the verb, “to go,” formed by combining the verb “to be” (I am) with the present participle.

All of that will probably sound like gobbeldy gook to you and won’t teach you anything right now because you might not be ready for it yet.

I’ll try to make it simple for you.

Your sentences (above) all start in the simple present tense: “What I do…”

They should start in something called the present progressive tense: “What I am going to do.”

It’s still present tense; it’s just a special form of the present tense that is not the “simple present tense.”

I guess you can think of it as a sort of “planning” tense:

Begin your sentence with, “What I am going to do is…”

(Don’t adopt that term, “planning” tense that I used here. In reality, it doesn’t exist. I just made it up to try to help you understand “ing” verbs.)

The present participle – or the verb ending in “ing” cannot be used together as a matched pair with an infinitive -- or verb preceded with the word, "to."

“What I am going to do is...”

You have to use the infinitive form (just the verb, preceded by the word, “to”).

The same applies to the next verb in the sentence, “having dinner.” You can’t use the “ing” form of the verb right after, “What I am going to do” -- which is still at the beginning of the sentence.

Also, you can’t mix the two verb forms in the same clause. You can’t take two equal verbs and make one into an infinity form (the verb preceded by the word, “to”), mixed together in the same clause with a verb ending in “ing.”

Again, you don’t always have to actually say the word, “to” when using the infinitive form of the verb in a sentence, but technically, it is always there.

Leaving it out and not saying it means that the word, “to,” is “understood.” Eventually, it will all start to make sense to you, but for now, just remember to always use the same verb form when two or more equal verbs are used together in the same clause.

  • Does the answer also apply if I want to describe an action that always happens and not an intention? With the meaning of "what I always do at this point is..."
    – Luke
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 11:09
  • The OP's second example is fine in the right context, for example where it refers to a regular activity.
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 11:29
  • If it is something you always do, then Sentence number 2 is correct.
    – Janimals
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 11:46
  • the second example might be used in common speech. It's an idiom which I think came from America (but I don't have research to support that view)
    – whanrott
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 12:56

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