The topic of gerunds and infinitives warrants multiple encounters throughout a language learner’s studies. A playful yet meaningful way to do this is to use a matching activity in which students combine sentence halves and properly sequence the sentences to create a complete story. This approach allows the teacher to select target verb + gerund or verb + infinitive combinations and tailor the complexity of the sentences to the students’ level. Stories need to be only 10-12 sentences long.
Here’s a model story that’s appropriate for upper intermediate or advanced students. Below you will also find the story in PDF, which can be printed out.
Set 1 [verb + gerund]
- Last night I had just finished… writing my last e-mail and was about to leave the office.
- I recall… walking toward the elevator when a bright light suddenly shone through the window.
- I confess… being scared at first, but then I simply became confused and curious. What was that outside?
- I saw no reason to put off… finding out, so I slowly approached the window.
Set 2 [verb + infinitive]
- I attempted… to see past the bright light to learn its source.
- Although I didn’t hear the noise usually associated with a helicopter, I still expected… to find one flying outside the office window.
- To my surprise, I saw what appeared… to be a small sphere, which was just big enough to hold one man.
- I managed… to catch a glimpse of a figure inside – it was not the shape of a man or a woman.
Set 3 [verb + gerund or infinitive]
- As I stood looking at what I couldn’t even identify, I began… to realize that I was probably seeing a UFO with an alien inside.
- The unidentified flying object continued… hovering quietly outside the window but the light was now turned low.
- I couldn’t stand… waiting and not knowing, so I made the next move. I raised my hand in greeting.
- Just before the UFO flew away, I saw the creature’s strange hand go up, and I like… to think that it was returning my greeting. In fact, I’m sure it was. Now who will believe me?
Story Match Activity (pdf file)
Step 1 – Copy enough sets for pairs or small groups of three. Cut out the strips. Keeping the sentences halves in the appropriate sets, mix the strips.
Step 2 – Hand out one set at a time to the class. Allow students 3-5 minutes to construct the story by matching the beginning to the endings.
Step 3 – When all groups have made their matches, have a volunteer read their group’s sequence of sentences. Invite other groups to confirm or challenge the sequence read. Use this same format for all three sets.