Verbs as Complements

Verbs that are always followed by the infinitive: Some verbs can take another verb as the complement instead of a noun. Sometimes the verb functioning as the complement must be in the infinitive (to + verb) and sometimes it must be in the gerund (verb + ing) form. The following verbs are always followed by the infinitive if the complement is a verb.

agree attempt claim decide demand
desire fail expect forget hesitate
hope intend learn need offer
plan prepare pretend refuse seem
strive tend try want wish

John expects to begin studying law next semester.

Mary learned to swim when she was very young.

The budget committee decided to postpone this meeting.

The president will attempt to reduce inflation in the next four years.

The soldiers are preparing to attack the village.

Cynthia has agreed to act as a liaison between the two countries.


Verbs that are always followed by the gerund: Other verbs must always be followed by the gerund. These verbs include:


admit appreciate avoid can’t help consider
delay deny enjoy finish mind
miss postpone practice quit recall
regret report resent resist resume
risk suggest      


John admitted stealing the jewels.

We enjoyed seeing them again after so many years.

You shouldn't risk entering that building in its present condition.

Michael was considering buying a new car until the prices went up.

The Coast Guard has reported seeing another ship in the Florida Straits.

Would you mind not smoking in this office?


Note: These sentences arc made negative by adding the negative particle not before the infinitive or gerund.

John decided not to buy the car.

We regretted not going to the party last night.

The following verbs can be followed by either the infinitive or the gerund with no change in meaning.

begin can't stand continue dread hate
like love prefer start  


He started to study after dinner. = He started studying after dinner.

Joan hates to rule her bicycle to school =Joan hates riding her bicycle to school.


Verbs + prepositions followed by the gerund: If a verb + preposition, adjective + preposition, noun + preposition, or preposition alone is followed directly by a verb, the verb will always be in the gerund form. The following list consists of verbs + prepositions.

approve of be better off count on depend on give up
insist on keep on put off rely on succeed in
think about think of worry about    


The following expressions contain the preposition to. The word to in these expressions must not be confused with the to in the infinitive. These verb + preposition expressions must also be followed by the gerund.

object to look forward to confess to


John gave up smoking because of his doctor's advice.

Mary insisted on taking the bus instead of the plane.

Fred confessed to stealing the jewels.

We are not looking forward to going back to school.

Henry is thinking of going to France in August.

You would be better off leaving now instead of tomorrow.


· Adjectives + prepositions followed by the gerund: The following adjec­tives + prepositions are also followed by the gerund.

accustomed to afraid of capable of fond of
interested in successful in tired of intent on


Mitch is afraid of getting married now.

We are accustomed to sleeping late on weekends.

Jean is not capable of understanding the predicament.

Alvaro is intent on finishing school next year.

Craig is fond of dancing.

We are interested in seeing this film.


Nouns + prepositions, followed by the gerund: The following nouns + prepositions are also followed by the gerund.

choice of excuse for intention of method for method of
possibility of reason for      


George has no excuse for dropping out of school.

There is a possibility of acquiring this property at a good price.

There is no reason for leaving this early.

Connie has developed a method for evaluating this problem.


Any time a preposition is followed directly by a verb, the verb will be in the gerund form.

After leaving the party, Ali drove home.

He should have stayed in New York instead of moving to Maine.


Adjectives followed by the infinitive: The following adjectives are always followed by the infinitive form of the verb and never by the gerund.

anxious boring dangerous hard eager
easy good strange pleased prepared
ready able* usual common difficult


*Able means the same as capable in many instances, but the grammar is very different. While able is followed by the infinitive, capable is followed by of+ [verb + ing].

These students are not yet able to handle such difficult problems.

These students are not yet capable of handling such difficult problems.


Examples of adjectives followed by infinitives:

Mohammad is anxious to see his family.

It is dangerous to drive in this weather

We are ready to leave now.

It is difficult to pass this test.

It is uncommon to find such good crops in this section of the country.

Ritsuko was pleased to be admitted to the college.


Some verbs can be followed by either the infinitive or the gerund, but the meaning changes.

stop remember forget


John stopped studying. (John is not going to study anymore.)

John stopped to study (John stopped doing something in order to study.)

 EXERCISE click here