Gerund and Infinitive

Read the following sentences.

  • Alice likes painting.
  • She would like to paint this landscape.
  • John likes playing cricket.
  • He would like to play cricket this evening.

Here sentence 1 means that Alice likes painting as an art. It is a general statement. Sentence 2 means that she would like to paint a particular scene.

Similarly sentence 3 is a general statement about John’s liking for cricket as a game. Sentence 4 says that he would like to play cricket on a particular occasion.

Thus we have seen that the gerund is used for making general statements whereas the infinitive is used for making statements about particular occasions – especially after verbs expressing likes and dislikes.

  • I hate getting up early in the morning. (More natural than ‘I hate to get up early in the morning.)
  • She likes going to the movies.

Interchange of gerunds and infinitives

Gerunds and infinitives are often interchangeable, both as subjects and objects of verbs.

  • Playing games is good for health.
  • To play games is good for health.
  • Smoking is forbidden.
  • To smoke is forbidden.
  • Reading is a good habit.
  • To read is a good habit.
  • I intend to visit my grandparents next week.
  • I intend visiting my grandparents next week.