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3. Verbs Followed by the Gerund

When one verb is followed by another, the second verb is not always in the infinitive. You can say I want to travel but not I enjoy to travel. Enjoy is usually followed by the gerund, and so are quite a number of other verbs. The most common are:

admit appreciate avoid delay deny dislike dread (=dread to think) enjoy escape excuse feel like finish forgive give up hate imagine involve keep (on) like love mind (=object) miss pardon postpone practice prevent prefer put off recollect remember (=recollect) resent resist risk stop (=cease) suggest understand

The gerund is also used after the expressions: can’t help can’t stand to burst out crying/laughing it is no use/good it is useless to spend/waste time/money to be worth to be busy

Examples of verb + gerund sentences:

He admitted taking the money. Avoid over-eating. She dreads getting old. He escaped being eaten by wolves. Putting in a new window involve cutting away part of the roof. He kept complaining. I can’t understand his/him leaving his wife. (See 111) Is there anything worth buying? He was busy packing his things. It’s no good/use arguing.

Note that:

  1. Some verbs (e.g. admit, deny, imagine, understand) can also take that-clauses.

2. Some verbs (e.g. remember, stop and others) can be followed by the infinitive with the difference in the meaning.

4. Verbs + Possessive Adjective/Pronoun Object + Gerund

A. If the verb or verb plus preposition is followed directly by the gerund, the gerund refers to the subject of the verb: Tom insisted on reading the letter. (Tom read it.)

But if we put a possessive adjective or pronoun before the gerund, the gerund refers to the person denoted by the possessive adjective/pronoun: He insisted on my/me reading it. (I had to read it.) B. The most common verbs and expressions which can take either construction are:

dislike dread fancy involve like (negative) mind propose recollect remember resent save stop suggest understand approve of disapprove of insist on it’s no good/use there’s no point in what’s the point of

He doesn’t like working late.

He doesn’t like me/my working late.

I object to paying twice for the same thing. I object to his/him making private calls on this phone.

C. Excuse, forgive, pardon and prevent are not followed directly by the gerund but take either possessive adjective/pronoun + gerund or pronoun + preposition + gerund: Forgive my/me ringing you up so early. Forgive me for ringing you up so early. You can’t prevent his/him spending his own money. You can’t prevent him from spending his own money.

appreciate usually requires a possessive adjective or passive gerund: I appreciate your giving me so much of your time. I appreciate being given this opportunity.

D.In formal English the possessive adjective is used with the gerund. But in informal English we very often use the pronoun. So, there is a choice of forms but it is recommended to use the pronoun.

In very formal English the possessive case is used: We are quite used to William’s grumbling. But it is much more usual to omit the ‘s: We are quite used to William grumbling. However, the genitive can be used in cases when the gerund is the subject of the sentence: I am sure William’s sitting up so late is bad for his health.