English Grammar Step by Step
INFINITIVES, GERUNDS AND PRESENT PARTICIPLES
Put the verbs in parentheses into the correct form.
1 Examples: (modal auxiliary verbs)
You can hand your project in at your leisure.
He ought not to put all his eggs in one basket. It’s very
Modal verbs are followed by a plain infinitive, apart from
the following ones: be to, have to, ought to, used to
and sometimes dare.
a The Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus said that the
Earth was not the centre of the Universe, but the Sun was
in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (which he
started in 1507 and finished in 1530, and was published
for the first time in 1543). People used (scoff) at this
idea. Even though this proved to be not exactly true,
this set a precedent in western culture.
b You have (wear) a surgical collar.
c When I was a girl, my father would (scold) me for arriving
d We were (have) covered this news, but we had an accident,
and some colleagues of ours had (do) it instead.
e We’ll (have) (teach) him a lesson.
He wants to pare costs down to the bone.
We can’t afford to buy a new motorbike.
I’m sorry, but it’s impossible for me to go to your hen party.
Five minutes to go. Please be brief.
We refuse to quit.
He wishes to see her again.
She promised to come and see me.
They decided to run away from home.
She plans to go overseas in July.
He threatened to kill her if she spilt the beans.
It’ll take time to convince her that we didn’t have anything
to do with this affair.
Her intention is to resign.
What/All she did was (to) complain about the weather.
He’s too short to be a basketball player.
It was very kind of you to give us a hand yesterday.
He was the first person to get there.
I have a lot of things to do.
The fruit isn’t ripe enough to eat.
Her desire to marry him vanished when she learnt he was
Would you be so kind as to wait here?
We use the full infinitive after some verbs and expressions,
as seen above.
a He pretended (have) cramp, because he didn’t want (play) any
b She learnt (ride) a bicycle at the age of seven.
c He tends (exaggerate) things.
d He’s eager (meet) her.
e They’re reluctant (accept) her refusal (co-operate) with them
on the project.
I want you to keep a close watch on them.
We expect them to get here by noon.
He has invited her to come home for supper.
They warned me not to go there alone.
In the above sentences, we have the following construction:
the main verb + an object + an infinitive with to.
a I’d prefer you not (see) that boy any longer.
b They forced him (give) them all the money he had on him.
c They obliged us (pay) an annual fee.
d His mother reminded him not (be) late.
e They implored me (forgive) them.
I find it necessary to start early.
I find (that) it is necessary to start early.
After the verbs consider, feel, find and think, we can
use it + an adjective + a to-infinitive instead of
a I find it impossible for us (climb) that mountain.
b We consider it easy (beat) them at cards.
c They felt it safer (remain) there until they got more
d They consider it reckless (attack) them.
e I think it impolite of you (interrupt) like that.
We saw her weep.
We saw her weeping.
When a perception verb is followed by an object, we have
two options: to use a bare infinitive after the object
(the first example above) or to use a present participle
(the second instance above). All the same, there is a
difference of meaning. In the first case, we saw the
entire action; but, in the second, we did not. In the
passive voice, however, to must be added when we have
a naked infinitive in the active:
She was seen to weep.
She was seen weeping.
The infinitive structure is also possible with make and help:
They made her weep. (active)
She was made to weep. (passive)
They help me (to) paint the room. (active)
I was helped (to) paint the room. (passive)
I helped (to) lay the table. (active)
a When he arrived home, he could hear his parents (have) a row.
b When they enter the place, they could feel something fishy
(go) on there.
c That made him (conjure) up memories of the past.
d He watched them (dance) a whole waltz beautifully.
e Mr Matthews was walking across the room when he noticed
Amanda (cheat) in the examination.
6 Revision exercise.
a I couldn’t (escape) out of the programme, so I pushed the
b I dare you (tell) her what you’ve just told me.
c You’d better (put) that cigar out: the baby is coughing.
d She was prone (let) the cat out of the bag.
e Nearly every time you told her a secret, she would (let) the
cat out of the bag.
f I know he’s dead, because I saw him (breathe) his last.
g I’d like you (do) me a favour in return.
h You have the right (lodge) a complaint within the next few
i I can smell something (burn). Is there anything on the stove?
j We cannot compel you (come), but we think you should.
k They were made (clean) down the walls of the house.
l Do you think it right for her (do) such a thing?
m They were (have) joined their lives for good, but he found out
that she only wanted his money, and he broke their engagement
n Look at those clouds! It’s bound (rain).
o It would be a good thing for you (attend) pottery classes.
p We agreed (keep) in touch.
q She was heard (insult) him. (They heard all she said to him.)
r When I awoke, I could feel a tarantula (crawl) along my body.
s This will enable us (gain) time.
t He entreated them (let) him (live).
u You ought (drink) less.
v He observed a silhouette (move) behind the curtains, so he
fled as fast as he could.
w We forbid you (go) to that party.
x It was very considerate of you (come) on our aid.
y As a boy, he used (squabble) with his brother.
z For you (become) a nun is normal, but not for me.
We don’t allow people to light fires in the area.
We don’t allow lighting fires in the area.
In the first example, allow is followed by an
object + an infinitive; but, in the second,
the object is not mentioned, and a gerund is
therefore required. The same pattern can also
occur in the following verbs: advise, authorise
(or authorize), forbid, permit, recommend,
require and urge.
a His doctor recommended him (take) more exercise.
b He has authorised me (take) any decision while he’s away.
c He has authorised my (take) any decision while he’s away.
d This writing requires (revise).
e He recommended (work) overtime.
There are some children (who are) playing in the street.
The man (who is) speaking to Mr Turner hit Mandy in the
eye a week ago.
We sometimes omit the relative pronoun and the verb ‘be’, as
seen above. Occasionally, we may leave out the relative
pronoun if we add -ing to the verb:
She has just sent me a message which says that she can’t
She has just sent me a message saying that she can’t come.
a Look at that couple (walk) arm in arm.
b Who is that hunky boy (talk) to my sister?
c The girl (sit) next to George is a real stunner.
d The chap (eat) a hot dog asked me to go out with him
e There is a dog (pee) on your door.
I caught them stealing my jewellery.
After catch, discover, find, keep, leave and spot, we can
have an object + a present participle. A past participle
is also possible after all the verbs mentioned above,
except for catch: I left the car unlocked. Find and
discover may be followed by an object plus a full infinitive:
We found her to have something to do with the whole affair.
She was discovered to have murdered three children. (passive)
a I discovered him (caress) her.
b They spotted her (park) her car.
c She kept him (wait) for over an hour.
d I must go straight off: I left my son (play) with his toys
all alone twenty minutes ago.
e When her parents entered her room, they found her (read)
comics instead of studying.
I must have my sister water my plants. (= I must make my
sister water my plants.)
I must get my sister to water my plants. (= I must make my
sister water my plants.)
She had/got everybody laughing at her jokes. (= Her jokes
made everybody laugh.)
The alternative with get is informal. For additional
information on have and get + an object + an infinitive
or a present participle, see unit 6, part 4, section 6.
a This handle has just come off. I will have to get a carpenter
b My car broke down this morning. I’ll have to have a mechanic
c As this mathematical equation was very difficult for me, I got
my father (help) me with it.
d How did you get the lights (work) again?
e He had all his pupils (listen) to what he was saying
I have come to see the manager.
She draw the curtains in order not to/so as not to be seen
by her neighbours.
To can express purpose. In order to and so as to may replace
to, but are more emphatic. In the negative, we use in order
not to or so as not to. For more details about purpose
clauses, see unit 27.
a She bought a lot of silkworms (get) silk from their cocoons.
b He came into the lounge (poke) the fire.
c He didn’t say who he was (hide) his shady past.
d He climb that peak (see) the beautiful panorama of the whole
e They looked round (make) sure nobody was following them.
12 Revision exercise.
a He punch his opponent on the nose (knock) him down. (purpose)
b We can’t (get) those dogs (stop) barking.
c She entered the drawing-room (check) if everything was ready
for the social gathering they were having that night.
d Nobody was able (overthrow) the Franco regime.
e My job requires me (get) up at half past four in the morning.
f He was found (give) secret information to the enemy.
g They did very badly in their exams, so they resolved never
(skip) any lectures again.
h They induced him (throw) a stone at the referee.
i There’s an odd-looking fellow (sit) on a park bench.
j We advised Agnes not (go) with that moron.
k They advised (slow) the car down as we entered the city.
l I must (get) my husband (paint) the children’s rooms.
m I must (have) my husband (paper) the hall.
n ‘Is there enough vegetable stew (go) round?’
‘No. We’d better (make) some more.’
o They went there (take) control of the situation.
p I could sense her (get) angry as our conversation went on.
q He persuade her (challenge) for the gold.
r They want (remake) this film. They hope (get) a box-office
s We do not permit (consume) alcoholic beverages on the
t We do not permit anyone (consume) alcoholic beverages
on the premises.
u The flight to New York is due (take) off in a few minutes.
v ‘The German athlete managed (outshine) all her competitors,
although she was not favourite to win the race.’
‘Who was the favourite?’
‘The Peruvian runner.’
w I left my husband (gawp) at a football match on the telly.
x He took to drink when his wife passed on, but her sister
encouraged him (kick) the habit. Now he doesn’t drink a drop.
y When he entered the office, he saw Annie (toady) to the boss.
z He bought his employer a bouquet of flowers for her birthday
(suck) up to her.
He showed her how to do it.
He told me what to do.
Observe the usage of a wh- word (including how) + a
a I wondered whether (take) the job or not.
b He learnt how (swim) when he was six.
c We have already decided when (go) to Canada.
d I didn’t see anybody who(m) (talk) to.
e They didn’t know where (spend) the night.
I don’t mind working on Sundays.
He enjoys going for long walks in the woods.
She loathes doing oral examinations.
It is worth reading The Old Man and the Sea.
This job will involve getting up early.
It’s no good/use crying over spilt milk.
I don’t feel like staying at home tonight.
After some verbs or expressions, a gerund is required.
a She suggested their (marry) in church.
b He practised (ride) his horse before the race.
c We can’t help (eat) chocolates.
d They avoided (talk) to us last night.
e When you finish (do) your homework, I’ll give you an
We dislike being told what to do.
She left the room without saying a word.
Acting is the most important thing in life for her.
This knife is for cutting bread.
I don’t like these dancing shoes.
She was a dancing girl.
After making a fire, they sat round it/After they made a
fire, they sat round it.
When going out alone at night, you need to be careful of
strangers/When you go out alone at night, you need to be
careful of strangers.
Climbing that mountain, Patrick broke his leg in a
fall/When Patrick was climbing that mountain, he broke
his leg in a fall.
He felt his strength declining as time went by.
She left home weeping/sad.
The girl (who is) carrying a handbag is beautiful.
Not knowing what to do, they stayed there/As they did not know
what to do they stayed there.
Students of English are not usually required to know
the distinction between a present participle and a
gerund, since they both end in -ing. Therefore, we
can refer to them by saying -ing forms.
A present participle is a form that acts as a verb,
adjective or adverb. A gerund functions nominally,
ie as a noun. In the first five sentences above,
‘being’, ‘saying’, ‘acting’, ‘cutting’ and ‘dancing’
are gerunds. In the other examples, the -ing form
is a present participle.
a I love (walk) in the country and (hear) the birds (sing).
b I’m (think) of (resit) this exam next year.
c Before (start) the car, you should pull the choke out.
d While (work) with little handicapped children, you should be
tender towards them: they need a lot of (love) care and
e (be) a philologist, he loves languages.
See unit 22.
For be to, see unit 6, part 1, section 7.
See units 6 (part 4, section 4) and 22 (sections 19, 20 and 21)
See unit 22, sections 26, 27, 29, 30, 31 and 33.
See unit 6, part 2.
See unit 6, part 3.
See unit 17, section 3.
See unit 20, section 10.
See unit 20, section 10.
See unit 17, section 3.
See unit 17, section 5.
Observe the following:
‘Would you like to have another drink?’
‘I would love to (have another drink), but I have to drive.’
‘Ought I to tell her what happened?’
‘Yes, you ought (to).’
Compare the following:
They didn’t tell me to do it. (They did not say anything
about doing it.)
They told me not to do it. (They said that I was not to
Or, occasionally, a noun: I consider it a great honour to
be invited to your wedding.
Can’t help is followed by a gerund: I can’t help thinking of
It is much better to keep the to with help, at least in
formal British English.
See unit 6, part 4, section 10.
Let is followed by an object + an infinitive without ‘to’.
Instead of this, we can say It is normal for you to become
a nun, but (it is) not for me. See also section 21.
These sentences may be turned into the passive voice:
People are not allowed to light fires in the area/We
don’t allow fires to be lit in the area.
Lighting fires is not allowed in the area.
A possessive word + a gerund may also occur after these verbs:
My parents forbade my smoking at home.
My parents forbade me to smoke at home. (less formal)
For more information, see unit 20, section 11.
Compare this section with section 21.
Notice the following:
We went there only to find that nobody was waiting for
us. (We went there in order to meet them; but it was a
waste of time, as they were no longer there.)
See unit 20, section 13, footnote 22.
See unit 20, section 10.
A preposition + a gerund.
A preposition + a gerund.
That is, shoes for dancing.
That is to say, a girl who danced.
Here, after is a conjunction, which is followed by a
present participle. After can also be a preposition:
After the game, they went to have a drink. A preposition
is put before a noun, pronoun or gerund; although in
question and relative clauses, it may be placed at the
end of the interrogative sentence or the relative clause.
See units 4 (section 4) and 20 (section 3).
The subject of ‘making’ is the same as the subject of the
main clause. If the subject is not the same, we place it
before the present participle: The game being lost, she
started to cry. (= As the game was lost, she started to cry.)
There are some exceptions, though:
Taking everything into account/consideration, this car
is very expensive. (= If we take everything into account/
consideration, this car is very expensive.)
Generally speaking, this theory falls into three main
parts. (= If we speak in general terms, this theory
falls into three main parts.)
A conjunction + a present participle.
A noun is sometimes used adjectively. For instance, instead
of ‘the driver of a bus’, we may say ‘a bus driver’. See
unit 11, section 1, footnote 4.
Author: Miquel Molina i Diez
Pages: 1, 2 and the key
1 Negative and interrogative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
2 Short answers (Page 2 and the key)
3 Question tags (Page 2 and the key)
4 Questions and exclamations (Page 2 and the key)
5 So, neither, nor, either (the key)
6 Be, used to, would, be/get/become used to, dare, have, get, become, grow, go, turn, fall and feel (Page 2 and the key)
7 Verb tenses: forms (Page 2 and the key)
8 Irregular verbs
9 Verb tenses: uses (Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5 and the key)
10 Personal pronouns, possessives and reflexive pronouns (Page 2 and the key)
11 The genitive case (the key)
12 Singular and plural nouns (Page 2 and the key)
13 Gender (the key)
14 A, an, some, any, no, not, none, each, every and the; compounds of some, any, no and every (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
15 Neither, not...either, none, not...any, both and all (the key)
16 A few, few, a lot, lots, a little, little, many, much, no and plenty (the key)
17 Enough, too, so and such (the key)
18 Comparative and superlative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
19 Adjective order (the key)
20 Relative clauses (Page 2 and the key)
21 Do and make (the key)
22 Modal verbs (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
23 Infinitives, gerunds and present participles (Page 2 and the key)
24 Conditional sentences (Page 2 and the key)
25 Passive sentences (the key)
26 Reported speech (Page 2 and the key)
27 Purpose (the key)
28 Word order (the key)
29 Inversion (the key)
30 Connectors (Page 2 and the key)
31 Prepositions (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
32 Phrasal verbs (the key)