Gerunds as Objects of Verbs  

Definition

Gerunds very frequently function as the direct objects of “true” verbs. However, there are some verbs that are more likely to take gerunds as objects than others.
In this section, we’ll look at some common verbs that take gerunds as their direct object to get a sense of how they’re used.

Stative vs. Action Verbs

Stative verbs that take gerunds

Stative verbs, also known as verbs of feeling, are very likely to take gerunds as their objects.
Here are some examples of common stative verbs that take gerunds (keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list):
Stative verb
Example with a gerund as an object
love
“I love going to the movies.”
like
“I like living by the ocean.”
enjoy
“Do you enjoy working in retail?”
mind
“Would you mind watching my seat for me while I go to the bathroom?”
feel like
“I feel like staying home tonight.”
stand
“She can’t stand being around him.”
imagine
Imagine winning the lottery. It would be great!”

Action verbs that take gerunds

Certain action verbs (also called dynamic verbs) can also take a gerund as their object if describing a secondary action. For instance:
Action verb
Example with a gerund as an object
admit (to)
“He admitted (to) cheating on the exam.”
avoid
“He always tries to avoid doing his homework.”
consider
“He is considering moving to London.”
delay
“He delayed paying his phone bill.”
deny
“He denied stealing the money.”
insist on
“He insisted on giving me a ride to the train station.”
keep/continue
“Please, keep/continue telling me your story.”
mention
“She mentioned meeting him for a coffee earlier.”
practice
“She practices speaking English whenever she gets the chance.”
recommend
“I recommend going to the mountains in the summer.”
resist
“She resisted sneaking out to the party down the road.”
suggest
“They suggested staying at a five-star hotel.”
Again, the above is not a complete list. There are many other dynamic verbs that will take a gerund as their object.

Gerunds vs. Infinitives

Gerunds and infinitives are both verb forms that can function as nouns, and, as such, they are both often used as the objects of “main” verbs. In many cases, we can use either the infinitive or the gerund in addition to “standard” nouns.
Some verbs, however, can only be followed by infinitives and not gerunds. In each example below, we can see how a gerund does not fit with the main verb:
Infinitive (Correct)
Gerund (Incorrect)
“They promised to be quiet in the car.”
“They promised being quiet in the car.”
“I agreed to leave him alone.”
“I agreed leaving him alone.”
“She asked to see the landlord about the faulty stove.”
“She asked seeing the landlord about the faulty stove.”
Likewise, some verbs are followed only by gerunds and not infinitives. In most cases, these are action verbs. For example:
Gerund (Correct)
Infinitive (Incorrect)
“I recall seeing an advertisement for that somewhere.”
“I recall to see an advertisement for that somewhere.”
“I recommend reading Moby Dick at some point in your life.”
“I recommend to read Moby Dick at some point in your life.”
“He’ll consider hearing your side of the story later, if he has time.”
“He’ll consider to hear your side of the story later, if he has time.”
Unfortunately, there is not a set of rules to determine which verbs can take which forms as their objects.

Verbs followed by both gerunds and infinitives

For other verbs, we can use either the infinitive or the gerund.
Most of the time, there is no difference in meaning when we substitute the infinitive for the gerund. This is especially true for stative verbs. For example, each of the following pairs mean the same thing:
Gerund
Infinitive
“I like hiking.”
“I like to hike.”
“I love swimming.”
“I love to swim.”
“I prefer going out on the weekend.”
“I prefer to go out on the weekend.”
With some verbs, we can use both the infinitive and the gerund, but the meaning of the sentence changes subtly as a result. In this case, we have to use context to understand the meaning completely. For example:
Infinitive
Gerund
“I remembered to close the window.” (I didn’t forget to do this)
“No, I didn’t leave the window open. I remember closing it.” (I recall doing this)
“I forgot to read this book for school.” (I didn’t remember to do this, so it didn’t happen)
“I forget reading this book for school.” (I don’t recall this fact)
“I’ve been trying to call you all day, but the line has been busy.” (Attempt to do something)
Try calling my cell phone next time.” (This is a possible solution to the problem)
“I stopped drinking sugary drinks because of my health.” (I don’t drink sugary drinks anymore)
“I stopped to drink at the well.” (I interrupted what I was doing to drink from the well)
Quiz

1. Which of the following verbs will not take a gerund as its object?





2. Which kind of verb is more likely to take a gerund as its object?





3. Identify the gerund in the following sentence.
“I am waiting to see if the doctor recommends getting a transplant.”





4. True or false: All gerunds can be replaced by infinitives when they function as the objects of verbs.



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