So which do we use: a gerund, full infinitive, or bare infinitive?

by JoeCarillo ( | | | | | | )

February 4, 2014


Dear Fellow Writer,


For many nonnative speakers or learners of English, it’s difficult enough deciding whether to use a gerund or an infinitive for certain sentence constructions, but the problem becomes even more baffling when neither makes the sentence work properly or—at the very least—doesn’t make that sentence sound right. In such cases, in fact, lopping off the “to” from the full infinitive form to yield what’s called the bare infinitive becomes necessary to put the sentence on the right footing.


Such a grammatical dilemma was recently presented to me by an Iran-based English teacher, to analyze and resolve which I wrote a three-part essay for my weekly English-usage column in The Manila Times. I am now posting all three parts in this week’s edition of Jose Carillo’s English Forum for the benefit of all who still get similarly stumped by the gerund-infinitive conundrum.


THIS WEEK IN THE FORUM (February 2 – 8, 2014):

·       Essays by Jose Carillo: So Which Do We Use: A Gerund, Full Infinitive, or Bare Infinitive? (Ground rules to make sentences logical and sound right when using them)

·       Advice and Dissent: Point Counterpoint on Why Asian American Students Excel in the U.S. (Two sharply opposing views on the kind of parenting that ensures their academic success)

·       Student’s Sounding Board: Is the Usage of the Expression “Huge Amount of Work” OK? (Yes, particularly for abstract work such as reading, thinking, surveillance)

·       News and Commentary: European Languages Under Threat From Digital Dominance of English (Technology and linguistics are now being eyed to rescue them from oblivion)

·       Time Out from English Grammar: Aside from Plays and Poetry, Did Shakespeare Also Dabble in Sci-Fi? (A scholarly U.S. survey has established genes, events, and values as its mainsprings)

·       Readings on Language: Getting Obsessed Over Punctuation Might Prove Well Worth The Effort (It could put you in the league of such consummate punctuation users as Nabokov or, uhm, Dickens)

·       Badly Written, Badly Spoken: Certain Peculiarities of Syntax are Not Necessarily Bad Grammar (Some word omissions are often valid stylistic decisions of the author)

·       My Media English Watch: Cop Out: When the Passive Voice is Necessary for Clarity’s Sake (A dogged adherence to the active voice often just muddles the picture)

·       The Finest in Language Humor: English Written or Spoken During Second-Language Placement Tests (Sampler: “I felt the happiest woman on Earth at the time.”)

·       Getting to Know English: It’s Time to Get a More Solid Grasp of  the Usage of “That” and “Which” (Uncertainty or downright confusion in using the relative pronouns is endemic among English users)

·       The Lounge: 26 Marvelous Puns to Rave About (Sampler: “A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.”)

·       How Good is Your English?: Debatable Answer Choices in English Practice Test (They can confuse when too arithmetical, too arbitrary, and too culturally bound!)


See you at the Forum! 


Sincerely yours,

Joe Carillo


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