Trying to Learn Confusing Combinations: More Activities for Gerunds and Infinitives

In my previous post, I offered two ideas for classroom practice with the verbs forget and remember. Of course, there are other verbs that have significant meaning changes when followed by either a gerund or an infinitive. Here are two more activities for two more such verbs, try and stop.

1) Future Goals. Ask students to think about what they’d like to achieve within the next five years in one or two aspects of their life: career, education, or personal life. Have them write down 1-2 specific goals using either want or would like. Models: I want to finish college in three years. I would like to find a job here in the U.S. after graduation. Place students in groups of 2 or 3. Students will take turns sharing their goals. After one student reads a sentence, the students listening must ask about specific plans. Provide a prompt: How do you plan to achieve that? The answer must include try + infinitive. Model: I’ll try to finish college in three years by taking five courses each semester. The listeners are encouraged to make suggestions using try + gerund, for example, I think that’s possible, but maybe you should just try taking four courses in your first semester. After you know for sure that you can handle all that work, then you can try enrolling in five.


2) Ask the Experts. Find or create fictitious letters asking for advice. Dear Abby could help you generate content. Look at the original letters and rewirte them to make the text more concise and to include stop + gerund/infinitive.  You can start with these three:

  • (a) I don’t know what to do. I want to invite my friend to do things like we used to do things. I want some time for just us girls, but she keeps bringing her new boyfriend along. He’s not a bad person, but he does talk a lot. It’s hard to feel close to my girlfriend when he’s always around. Do you think I should ask my friend to stop bringing her boyfriend along when I invite her somewhere? I want her to be happy with this guy, but I want to spend time with her, too.  – Missing my best friend.
  • (b) Please help me. I’m seventeen years old, and my mother treats me like I’m five. She likes to make my bed in the morning, choose my clothes, and kiss me goodbye when I leave for school. When I come home, she wants to fix me a snack and talk about my day. I love her, but she’s loving me to death. I want her to stop treating me like a small child. I need some more independence. When I try telling her this, she cries. – A loving son who needs more space.
  • (c) I’m turning to you for advice. I work in a big office, and we all have our work to do. One of my co-workers, however, often asks me for help. I like to think I’m a helpful person, but some of the tasks he’s asking me to assist him with are tasks he should be able to do on his own. I can’t believe he got the job in the first place and he doesn’t know how to write a request letter or type up a report. He needs to try to do these things on his own and stop pestering me.  Advice? – Annoyed co-worker.

Place students in small groups. Hand out one letter to each group. Tell them that they are a writing team for a popular advice column in a newspaper. They must write 4-5 lines of advice and use at least one combination of stop + gerund. Encourage them to include other combinations if possible, such as try + gerund/ infinitive. Model:

  • (a) Dear Missing My Best Friend,  Stop feeling guilty. It isn’t a bad thing to want girl time with your best friend. Try telling her exactly what you told me. You want her to be happy, you think her boyfriend is a good guy, but you miss spending time with her.

If time allows, have groups switch letters so that more advice can be generated. Also, you can have groups compare their reponses to the same letters.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. sokaina says:

    hi my name is sokaina first i want thank you for this great video second i wish for you to tell me what the exact difference is between gerunds and infinitives

    1. Hi Sokaina.
      Have you watched my lesson on gerunds and infintives on YouTube?
      Gerunds are the -ing form of the verb and it functions like a noun (subject, object). Infinitives use “to” + base verb and can also be subjects or objects There are other uses, but the confusion usually occurs when they are used as objects of verbs. Some verbs take only gerunds (enjoy doing), and some take only infinitives (would like to do). Some take either and it makes no difference (love doing/ love to do). Some can take either, but then there’s a difference in meaning. That’s what I focus on in my YouTube video: verbs like -stop, forget, remember, try. Please feel free to ask more questions, but the best place for language questions is on my website. Other students can benefit from reading my answers there. Thank you and best wishes!

  2. I loved your video and really like your suggestions. I am definitely trying them with my students and recommend your video and blog on my blog. Thanks.

    1. Thank you, Alicia. If you have suggestion on how to improve any activity I post, feel free to share them.
      Regards to you and your students!

  3. vu says:

    Love love your work!!!

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