Gerund and infinitive

Infinitive: A verb denoting possession, existence or action preceded by the preposition 'to' and not limited to number and persons.


Gerund: A verb (ending in 'ing') denoting action but functioning as a noun (subject or object of a verb or object of a preposition)


Examples of infinitives.


1. He went to the supermarket to buy some groceries.

Here the underlined words are infinitives because, though they are verbs, they are not limited to number and person of the subject.


2. To err  is human, but to forgive is divine.

Here the underlined words are infinitives because, though they are verb, they are not limited to number and person of the subject.


Examples of Gerund.


1. Ajith and Vijay are fond of cycling.

In this sentence, the underlined word is gerund as it is in the form of verb, but it functions as noun.  


2. Swimming is a great hobby.

In this sentence, the underlined word is gerund as it is in the form of verb, but it functions as noun.



More examples to understand.


1.       The sky poured turbulent waters on Mumbai to transform lanes and streets into rivers.
(Rewrite using gerund form of the underlined word)

Ans. The sky poured turbulent waters on Mumbai, transforming lanes and streets into rivers.


2.       Making omelettes and rolling out chappatis became my special duties.

Ans. To make omelettes and to roll out chappatis became my special duties.


3.       I got caught each time I tried arguing.

Ans. I got caught each time I tried to argue.



4.       Besides, in India there are always other people to do al that for you.

Ans. Besides, in India there are always other people doing all that for you.



6.       Finally, we tried to combine forces.

Ans. Finally, we tried combining forces.



7.       Looking for groceries was another matter.

Ans. To look for groceries was another matter.



8.       My parents preferred to patronize just on store.

Ans. My parents preferred patronizing just one store.



9.       Public may take some time to apprehend that it is being cheated.

Ans. Public may take some time apprehending that it is being cheated.

1.The driver refused to wait.
    to wait  - Infinitive

2.Panting , I boarded the plane under the reproachful  gaze of the other passengers.
    Panting – participle

3.We saw an army of ants lugging a fly wich was at least ten times the ant’s size.
     Lugging – participle

4.On enquiring , the priest said that the temple found it difficult to get the bilva leaf.
    enquiring  - Gerund

5.It was not commercially economic to grow it.
    to grow - infinitive

6.Very  few flower sellers were willing to provide bilva leaves.
    to provide – Infinitive

7.The greatest difficulty was in identifying the plants.
    Identifying  - Gerund

8.He had to consult many scholars.
    to  consult – Infinitive

9.The book succeeds in providing good leisure reading.
    Providing – Gerund

10.It is one of the best occasions in recent times to raise a toast.
     to raise – Infinitive

11.This strategy looks easy but is difficult to implement.
to implement – Infinitive

12.Indians are always comfortable playing against the wind as it easy to control you shorts.
      Playing  - participle

13.It is equally important to realize that she has a long career ahead of her.
      to realize – Infinitive

14.India is faced with the challenge of sustaining  its rapid economic groth.
     sustaining  - Gerund

15.India has committed itself to reading its carbon emissions by 20-25 per cent by 2020.
     reducing  - Gerund


To understand more


The subject of a sentence is usually a noun or a pronoun. But sometimes, to-infinitives and –ing forms are also used as subjects.
Study the examples given below.

Swimming is a good exercise.
Here the –ing form ‘swimming’ acts as the subject of the verb ‘is’.

More examples are given below.

Smoking is injurious to health.

Singing gives me great pleasure.

Telling lies can get you into deep trouble.

Collecting stamps is his hobby.

Driving very fast on a busy road may lead to an accident.

In each of the following sentences, the subject is an –ing form.

to-infinitive can also act as the subject of a verb.

Study the example sentences given below.

To err is human.

To give advice is easy.

To follow this advice may be difficult.

To swim in that sea may be dangerous.

To drive very fast here is not advisable.

Now study the examples given below. They show another kind of subject a sentence can have.

What you say is not true.

Where the police have taken him is not known.

Why even good people suffer in this world is a great mystery.


As you can see, the subject in each of these sentences is not a word or a phrase, but a group of words which itself looks like a sentence. A group of words of this kind is called a clause. Here the clause functions as a noun and therefore it is called a noun clause.

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