Activities Worth Remembering: Classroom Ideas for Teaching Gerunds and Infinitives

As we know, there’s a tricky group of verbs that can be followed by either a gerund or an infinitive. The bigger challenge is learning and remembering when there’s a significant change in meaning. I think actual use of the verb + gerund/ infinitive combinations is necessary to drive this language point home. Creating a memorable context is also key.  Here are two ideas for the verbs forget and remember.

1) Consequences.  Explain that you will ask a question using the verb remember. Students must write down an answer in a complete sentence using the verb forget. Example: Why should I always remember to lock my car door?  – If you forget to lock your car door, someone could steal your car. Other questions:

  • Why should I remember to brush my teeth at least two times a day?
  • Why should people remember to send birthday wishes to family and friends?
  • Why should you remember to say “please” and “thank you” to your co-workers?
  • Why should children remember to clean up their toys?
  • Why should politicians remember to keep their promises to electors?

After students have written their answers to all the questions, pair them up or place them in small groups of three. Let them compare answers. Encourage peer feedback. Additional practice can be created by having the students change the original questions to interview questions: Do you remember to brush your teeth two times a day? Do you remember to send birthday wishes to family and friends? Etc.

2) Photographic Memory.  Ask students to bring in a photo from a fun trip or event. Bring one of your own to model the exercise. Show your photo to the students and talk about what you remember about that moment: I remember taking this picture. It was a weekend in July. My family was at the beach. I remember asking my sister to take the picture quickly because the sun was in my eyes. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Highlight your use of remember + gerund to recall a memory. Place students in small groups of 3 or 4 and have them share their photos and their memories of taking those photos. The must use at least one example of remember + gerund. After a few minutes, have the groups change so that students can share the memories with different classmates.

Suggestion: If you’re working with young ELLs, you might ask them to draw a picture of a fun trip they took. When they show their drawings to their classmates, the same basic process of recalling can take place: This is a picture of my family at the beach. We went there one weekend in July. I remember playing with my sister. I remember swimming in the cold water. I remember eating snacks that my mother brought from home.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Yes these ideas really work. I’m considering using them as well

  2. Rafael Roca says:

    I found your ideas extremely helpful.


    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      Thank you. I’m very happy to hear this!

  3. Erik Robles says:

    As an English teacher, I really appreciate your blog. Thank you for your posts. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for the support, Erik. Best wishes to you in your teaching!

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