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Use of infinitives & verbs with ending “ing”

Level: A1, A2
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An infinitive in English is a verb in basic form preceded by to”:

to come
to see
to read

Appears usually after another verb in sentences:

I want to be alone.
We agree to help him.

Some popular English verbs where the infinitive is used after:

verb example
agree  The manager agreed to pay in advance.
decide  We decided to move out.
learn  I learned to ice skate when I was 4.
plan They are planning to build another hotel. 
promise He promised to leave me alone.
want My sister wants to go with us. 
can’t wait I can’t wait to meet your friend.


The second verb being put after verbs is usually used as infinitive with “to”, but there are situations in which an infinitive appears without “to.”

Most of all, it concerns auxiliary verbs: can and could:

Mia can sing and play the piano.
could swim when I was three.
Can you open the window, please?


There are also verbs, after which another verb is put -not an infinitive, but in a form with ending -ing.

Most common verbs, after which another verb get an ending -ing:

verb example
dislike  I dislike dancing.
enjoy  Do you enjoy meeting new people?
finish When are you going to finish reading this book?
give up  I gave up smoking two years ago. 

After some verbs use of another verb both infinitive and with ending -ing is possible. It does not affect the meaning of a sentence:

verb example
like I like watching / to watch TV in the evening.
hate She hates getting up / to get up early. 
love Mike loves reading / to read books.
start The little girl started crying / to cry.
prefer Do you prefer taking / to take a taxi? 
worry She began worrying / to worry about her son


The form with an ending -ing appears often after the verb “to go” and is used to express any physical activities:

verb example
go shopping Would you like to go shopping with me?
go swimming I often go swimming in the river.
go skiing We usually go skiing in the Alps in winter.
go sailing They went sailing for the whole month. 


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