Gerund and infinitive – different meaning

Verbs change their meaning when they are followed by a Gerund or an Infinitive

Some verbs have different meanings when they are follwed by a gerund or an infinitive.


looks back in the past looks into the future
He'll never forget spending so much money on his first computer. Don't forget to spend money on the tickets.

go on

to continue with the same thing to change the activity
Go on reading the text. Go on to read the text.


sth. has to be done to get a result intend to do sth.
You have forgotten your homework again. That means phoning your mother. I meant to phone your mother, but my mobile didn't work.


you did sth in the past and you are not happy about it to tell bad news and you are not happy about it
I regret being late for school. We regret to inform you that the flight has beeen delayed for another two hours.


looks back in the past looks into the future
I remember switching off the lights when I went on holiday. Remember to switch off the lights when you go on holiday.


to stop with an activity to stop in order to do sth.
I stopped smoking. I stopped to smoke.


to test sth. to do sth. that is not easy
I tried taking an aspirin but it didn't help. Try to be quiet when you come home late.

The following words are a little more tricky.


I like reading books. = I like to read books.
There is normally no difference in meaning.

  • Use the Gerund when like is used in the sense of 'enjoy'.
    Example: I like riding my bike.
  • Use the Infinitive when you do sth. in the sense of a habit.
    Example: I like to do my homework in the afternoon. (I think, it is good to do my homework in the afternoon).

Mind the following examples:

  • I like watching films.
  • I would like to watch the film.

be afraid

Use the Gerund when you worry about sth.

  • I'm afraid of having an accident.

In other cases there is no difference in meaning whether we use Gerund or Infinitive.

  • I'm afraid to go by bike on this road. = I'm afraid of going by bike on this road.


If we use a Gerund after need, then the sentcene has a passive meaning:

  • The window needs cleaning.

used to

The form to be used to + Gerund means that the person is familiar with sth.

  • He is used to smoking. (He still smokes.)

The form used to + Infinitive means that the person did sth. in the past.

  • He used to smoke. (He does not smoke any more.)


  • He is used to smoke. (This sentence is wrong.)