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INFINITIVE AND GERUND COMPLETERS

Some verbs take verbal completers that behave like nouns. These verbal completers may be infinitives or gerunds. (A gerund is the -ing form of a verb when it's used as a noun. When the same form is used as a modifier, it's called a participle.)
  • She encouraged him to eat at her house. (Encourage is a verb that takes an infinitive completer.)
  • He appreciated knowing that he was welcome there. (Appreciate is a verb that takes a gerund completer.)
  • The family loved to see him. OR
    The family loved seeing him. (Love takes either an infinive or a gerund .)
There's no simple way of knowing whether a verb takes an infinitive or gerund completer. Sometimes verbs with similar meanings take different completers:
  • I like to swim, but he hates to swim. OR
    I like swimming, but he hates swimming. (Like and hate take either form.)
  • I enjoy swimming, but he dislikes swimming. (Enjoy and dislike take gerunds only. Although they are smilar to like and hate, they cannot take infinitives.)
Further, some verbs (like encourage, in the first example above) require that the verbal completer should have an agent, a person or thing that is responsible for the action of the verbal. (She encouraged him to eat at her house—him = the agent) Other verbs don't require an agent for the completer. There's no clear rule about this.

The best way to decide what kind of completer a verb needs is to look up the verb in a chart. Don't try to memorize the chart. If you look up verb completers when they become relevant to your own writing, you will remember them within the context of usage, which is the way native English-speakers have learned them.

Print out a copy of Chart 7, VERBS THAT TAKE GERUND AND INFINITIVE COMPLETERS and refer to it as needed when you write. Return to the regular text for this chapter to find a Check this Out link to a website that explains infinitive and gerund completers in more detail.

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