Verb Patterns: 'after certain verbs' Notes

watch the Verb Patterns: 'after certain verbs' video

  • 'Verb Patterns' is also known as 'Verb Complementation'. The second verbs here - the infinitives, participles, and gerunds - are verb complements.

  • We refer to all these verb complements as 'verbs' themselves. However, I would actually argue that the gerunds and participles (the -ing forms) are actually nouns (direct object, more specifically), but for the sake of simplicity, we don't explore what that really means in this video.

  • There are plenty exceptions to most of the groups we've designated, and some verbs don't really fit into a group.

  • Among the list of whether to use the to ____ form or the ____ing form is "habits". This is not another group like the ones we cover in this video (such a group might include verbs like tend, continue, be used to, or can't help, for example). In fact, "habits" doesn't even refer to the first verb in the Verb Pattern (verb pair). Instead, it refers to the second one. If the second verb is something you do regularly, you probably use the to ____ form

  • In general, you could say that using the to ____ form is talking about the action itself, while the ____ing form considers the activity as a whole. For example, if Sue says that she 'likes to ski', then you can be sure she has a smile on her face when she hits the slopes. But if she says she 'likes skiing', maybe the idea of gliding downhill over show fascinates her, and maybe she likes those activities in the winter Olympics. In fact, it's possible that she likes skiing in general, but she doesn't like to ski herself.



Gerunds Notes

watch the Gerunds video

  • Most of my students forget the term 'gerund', so I sometimes call these 'verby-nouns' instead.

  • It's easiest to introduce gerunds as activities as opposed to actions. However, keep in mind that we can make gerunds out of stative verbs as well as action verbs. For example, in "Being sick is no fun," 'being' is not an activity, but it is a gerund.

  • Traditionally, Gerunds were not any noun ending with -ing, but only those which retained the properties of verbs yet did not take on the properties of nouns. For example, the word 'writing' is a gerunds in "She enjoys writing poems," but it is not a gerund in "Her writing is remarkable". The latter would instead be categorized as a participle noun. In the first instance, 'writing' is an activity; in the second, 'writing' is something tangible (and is the product of the activity of writing; the same goes for words such as 'building' and 'painting'). However, there are plenty of times in which the usage is ambiguous; the -ing word could take on the properties of either verbs or nouns, thus muddling the distinction. Most modern linguists consider both versions to be 'gerunds'.

  • The video points out a few ways gerunds can be modified, but one of the ways we didn't mention was through adverbs. Here's the total list of how gerunds can be modified or distinguished:



  • compounds

  • prepositional phrases

  • adverbs


  • compounds

  • prepositional phrases

  • adjectives

  • determiners

  • Some linguists would categorize Gerunds as a type of active Participle noun (we at Insights agree with them); other linguists count Gerunds as separate from Participles.

  • For more complex structures, you could place the -ing at the end of the first helping verb instead of the main verb.

  • Gerunds should be treated as uncountable nouns by default. However, if you are referring to specific instances of gerunds, you can use them as single or plural nouns.

    • Consider how different determiners change the specific meaning of a gerund.

    • In most cases, if the subject is a gerund, the verb should have the 3rd-person 's' (if it's in the present tense). Be careful the gerund phrases; the verb shouldn't reflect direct objects of the gerund (not 'playing with friends are fun'), but rather the gerund itself ('playing with friends is fun').

  • We don't use any punctuation to set apart a gerund phrase. We could have a similar or even identical sentence (in terms of word) for which the -ing phrase is set apart by commas or other punctuation, but in that case the participial -ing phrase would act like a modifier, most likely an adverb.

  • I originally used 'the pizza rule' for gerunds. The students were given sentences with blanks and had to fill in those blanks with either gerunds or infinitives. If you could put a noun in that blank - a noun like 'pizza', for instance - then a gerund could also go there, but probably not an infinitive. Of course, using 'pizza' wouldn't always make sense contextually, but it should work grammatically most of the time. While this was a decent rule-of-thumb, it wasn't perfect. Also, it's less useful when you're not doing a fill-in-the-blank.



Related Printouts

  • Verb Patterns: 'after certain verbs' lists by group (letter) (A4)

  • Properties of Gerunds (letter) (A4)


Next in the Series

Verb Patterns: an overview

There are other rules other than the 'after certain verbs' rule.  We'll take a look at some of those.

Verb Patterns: Reporting Verbs

Our 'after certain verbs' video deliberately left out a large group: reporting verbs.  That's because 1) there are plenty of sub-groups within that group and 2) reporting verbs are often considered separately; English books tend to place these in the Reported Speech section.  So it's worth putting these in their own video.

parts of speechErik Arndt