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5. Gerunds after Prepositions

The gerund is used after all prepositions no matter what word precedes – a noun or a verb: What can you do besides typing? You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. I have no objection to hearing your story again. They escaped by sliding down a rope. I don’t care for standing in queues. I’m against saying anything / I’m for saying nothing.

6. The Verb mind

A. This verb is used chiefly in the interrogative and negative:

Would you mind helping me?

I don’t mind doing this.

B. It can be followed directly by a gerund, or by a noun/pronoun or possessive adjective + gerund:

I don’t mind staying in this hotel. (I stay here and I don’t object to it.)

I don’t mind his/him staying here. (He stays here and I don’t object.

/I don’t object to his/him staying here.)

C. mind can never be followed by an infinitive.

7. Gerunds with Passive Meaning

After need, require and want, the gerund is used in a passive sense:

Your flowers need watering.

Does this problem require solving?

The house wants repairing. (British English)

Need can also be followed by a passive infinitive:

Your flowers need to be watered.

8. The Gerund: Special Cases

Note the use of the gerund after as, like, than, it is any/some/no etc. good/use, it is useless, it is worth, to feel like, to be for/against:

As well as coming to any party without the invitation,

he is always the last to leave.

I don’t feel like going to bed so early.

There’s nothing I like more than dancing.

It’s no use crying. It’s useless crying.

It was no good objecting.

Are you for or against moving to a new flat?

This book is worth buying.

Infinitive and gerund constructions

1. Verbs and Adjectives Which May Take either Infinitive or Gerund

advise (117, 8) like (117, 10)

agree (117, 12) love (117, 10) allow (117, 8) mean (117, 4)

attempt (117, 5) need (114; 117,13)

begin (117, 1 ) permit (117, 8)

can’t/couldn’t bear (117, 2) prefer (117, 10)

bother (117, 1) propose (117, 5)

care for (117, 10) recommend (117, 8)

cease (117, 1) regret (117, 9)

continue (117, 1) remember (117, 9)

forbid (117, 8) require (114)

forget (117, 9) start (117, 1)

go on (117, 6) stop (117, 7)

hate (117, 10) try (117, 11)

intend (117, 3) want (114)

accustomed, afraid, ashamed, certain, interested, sorry, sure, used: see 118.

2. Gerund or Infinitive? A. begin, start, continue, cease, bother Either infinitive or gerund may be used without any difference in meaning. An –ing form is more common when we are talking about the beginning of a long or habitual activity. When did you first started playing chess? The –ing form is not used after the progressive form of begin and start. I am beginning to get interested in this work. The infinitive is more usual with verbs of knowing and understanding and the verb matter.

  1. can’t/couldn’t bear

After these verbs, chiefly used in the negative, either gerund or infinitive can be used. But when the infinitive refers to a deliberate action the expression implies that the subject’s feeling prevented him from performing the action.

I couldn’t bear to tell him. (so I didn’t)

  1. intend

With this verb an infinitive is more usual than a gerund. I intend to sell my house. But when we have intend + object the infinitive is used. This is found only in formal English. The authority intended him to retire.

D. mean If the meaning of the verb is ‘intend’, the infinitive is used. I mean to finish the article by Friday. If the meaning is ‘involve’ (used only with an impersonal subject), the gerund is used. I don’t want to go if it means travelling by air.

  1. propose, attempt

Usually both structures are possible after these verbs with little difference of meaning. But propose usually takes the infinitive if the meaning is ‘intend’: I propose to start early and the gerund if the meaning is ‘suggest’: I propose leaving now if we want to catch the train.

E. go on go on + ing = continue doing the same thing. We can’t go on living in this shabby flat. go on + infinitive = do or say something new. The speaker can even continue talking about the same topic but introduces a new aspect of it. He welcomed the newcomers and went on to explain the principles of the theory. F. stop stop + ing = stop what one is doing. It can be followed by object + gerund. I can’t stop him playing computer games. stop + infinitive = make a pause in order to do something else. He stopped to light a cigarette.

G. allow, advise, forbid, permit, recommend

Gerund is used when there is no personal object. If we say who is allowed, advised, etc., the infinitive is used. They don’t allow smoking in the cinema. They don’t allow the spectators to smoke in the cinema.

H. regret, remember, forget

1. They are used with a gerund when the action expressed by the gerund is the earlier action: I regret telling them this awful news. (telling is the first action, regret is the second) I remember hearing about their marriage from my friend. (hearing is the first action, remember is the second) remember can be followed by possessive adjective/object + gerund: I remember his/him explaining it to me. I remember my teacher(’s) explaining it to me. forget + gerund is possible only when forget is in the negative. It is of- ten used after will never forget: I’ll never forget visiting the Buckingham Palace = I’ll always remember visiting the Buckingham Palace. 2. When regret, remember, forget themselves express the earlier action they are followed by an infinitive:

I regret to say that you are fired. (regret is the first action, to say is the second)

regret here is normally followed by a verb such as say, inform, tell. It is normally used only in the present tense. remember and forget can be used in any tense: I’ll remember to book the seats in the theatre. (remember is the earlier action) Compare: I remembered/I didn’t forget to post the letter. (I posted it.) I didn’t remember/I forgot to post the letter. (I didn’t post it.) 3. regret, remember, forget can also be followed by a noun/pronoun or a that-clause. remember and forget can also be followed by clauses beginning with how, why, when, etc.: I don’t remember when I saw her last. I’ve forgotten how to use this machine.

  1. like, love, hate, prefer, care

1. Very often there is not much difference between the two structures: My friends like working/to work in the garden after lunch, but I prefer working/to work in the morning. 2. When these verbs are used in the conditional or refer to one particular occasion, they are usually followed by the infinitive:

Would you like to come with me? I’d hate to spend Christmas alone. I hate to say but you are not allowed to work in this office. But would like can be followed by gerunds when we are not thinking of a particular action but are considering the subject’s tastes generally: She would like (=would enjoy) riding if she could ride better. 3. When used in the present or past tenses, these verbs are usually followed by the gerund:

They love wind-surfing.

He preferred walking to cycling.

4. Note however that like can also mean ‘think wise or right’, and is then always followed by the infinitive:

I like to go to the dentist twice a year. (I think this wise.) Compare this with I like going to the dentist, which implies that I enjoy my visits.

Similarly I don’t like to go = ‘I don’t think it right to go’ while

I don’t like going = ‘I don’t enjoy going.’ Notice another difference between these two negative forms. I don’t like to go usually means ‘I don’t go’

(because I don’t think it right). I don’t like going usually means ‘I go, although I don’t enjoy it’. 5. care is chiefly used in the negative and interrogative. care for + noun/gerund is very similar to like + noun/gerund. We can say: I don’t care for horror films or I don’t like horror films would care for + noun and would care + infinitive are similar to would like + noun/infinitive. But offers expressed by would you care (for)…? are less confident than would you like…?

Would you care to read my article, Ben?

(The speaker isn’t sure that Ben will want to read it.) 6. Do not confuse care as used above with care for (=look after) and care (about) (=feel concerned):

care for (=look after) is used chiefly in the passive:

The old people should be cared for by their children. care (about) (=feel concerned) is used chiefly in the negative and interrogative.

I don’t care (about) is similar to I don’t mind, which can often be used instead: I don’t care/mind how much it is. But note that I don’t care (about) = ‘I am indifferent (to)’ while I don’t mind = ‘I don’t object (to).

Note also that I don’t mind is much more polite than I don’t care which often sounds arrogant and selfish. In the negative interrogative either can be used but in the ordinary interrogative there is more difference between the two:

Do you care? = Are you concerned?

while Do you mind? usually means Do you object?

  1. try

try + -ing = make an experiment; for example to see if you like it or what

will happen: Try adding some more sugar, it may improve its taste. try + infinitive = make an effort; attempt to do something difficult: I tried to explain it to them again but they didn’t understand anyway.

K. agree to do/agree to doing agree takes the infinitive. It is the opposite of refuse + infinitive:

Bill agreed to help us but Tim refused to work with us. agree cannot take a noun/pronoun object. The opposite of refuse + object is accept + object:

He refused the promotion but she accepted it. agree to (preposition) can be followed by possessive adjective + gerund or noun/pronoun object:

I agreed to their participating in the meeting. He agreed to the plan.

The opposite here is: I don’t agree to their participating in the meeting.

L. need

need + infinitive = it is necessary for me to do it: He needs to practice every day if he wants to play the guitar well. need + -ing = something needs to be done: This difficult problem needs thinking about. (=it needs to be thought about)