the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English

Infinitive or -ing?

Sometimes we need to decide whether to use a verb in its:

to-infinitive form: to do, to sing

or in its

-ing form: doing, singing

For example, only one of the following sentences is correct:

I dislike to work late. One of these is wrong!
Which one?
I dislike working late.

Use infinitive...

after adjectives, for example:

This includes "too + adjective" and "adjective + enough". Look at these example sentences:

after certain verbs, for example:

Look at these example sentences:

Use -ing...

when the word is the subject of a clause:

after a preposition:

after certain verbs:

Look at these example sentences:

Some verbs can be followed by the infinitive or -ing form without a big change in meaning: begin, continue, hate, intend, like, love, prefer, propose, start
  • It started to rain / It started raining
  • I like to play tennis / I like playing tennis