Last week I taught my Pre-intermediate class about Gerunds and Infinitives. Gerunds are usually nouns but they are different from other nouns because they are made from verbs. Infinitives are the names of verbs: TO + BASE VERB. For example: to be, to have, to go, to look, to swim. When you look up a verb in a dictionary, it is the Base form that is listed first. Infinitives and Base verbs have no tense.
In the sentence, “I was swimming last night for two hours”, “swimming” is a participle – part of the verb “was swimming”.
In the sentence, “I love swimming”, “swimming” is a noun. It is the object of “love”. An object is a noun.
It is important to know when to use Gerunds after verbs and when to use Infinitives after verbs. Some verbs can be followed by a Gerund or an Infinitive: I love going out on Saturday nights with my friends. I love to go out on Saturday nights with my friends.
Other verbs cannot be followed by an Infinitive. If you want to follow the verb with another verb, you have to change it into a Gerund: I finished cleaning the house at 10pm. I enjoy going out with my friends. Of course, you can follow ‘finished’ and ‘enjoy’ with nouns: I finished my homework after dinner. I enjoy funny movies.
Other verbs cannot be followed by a Gerund: Rou decided to study English in Australia. She is planning to continue her studies in Taiwan.
There is no easy rule to help you know if a verb is followed by a Gerund or an Infinitive. You just have to learn them like new vocabulary. Online exercises are a good way to practise and remember.
Follow this link to http://www.englishpage.com/gerunds/infinitive_list.htm to see a list of verbs followed by Infinitives. This link will take you to verbs followed by Gerunds: http://www.englishpage.com/gerunds/gerund_list.htm
For more information and practice exercises go to http://www.englishpage.com/gerunds/part_1.htm