English for B2 Students/Using Verbs Together

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In English, as in most languages, it is common to use verbs together in a sentence - e.g. "I enjoy playing football". In some languages the second verb used must always be used in the infinitive (dictionary form). In English there are three common forms for the second verb used:

  • infinitive - to play, to see, to love, to hate, etc.
  • ing - playing, seeing, loving, hating, etc.
  • bare infinitive - play, see, love, hate, etc.

The form of the second verb depends on the first verb. Look at the three examples below and you'll see what form the second verb should take after the verbs enjoy, want and will:

  1. I enjoy playing football.
  2. I want to play football.
  3. I will play football.

Examination of the above sentences should reveal that:

  • ENJOY is followed by ing
  • WANT is followed by infinitive
  • WILL is followed by bare infinitive

Verbs followed by ing[edit]

  • Phrasal verbs
  • Suggest, Avoid, Depend on, Object to, Be/Get used to/accostumed to, Deny To, refer to, Can't help/stand/bear, Finish ,Admit

Verbs followed by infinitive[edit]

  • want, wish, would like, afford, agree, aim, decide, help, mean, offer, prefer, promise, refuse, tend, happen

If in doubt about which form to use you should use the infinitive as this is the most common form.

e.g. I want to go home. He offered to open the window.

Verbs followed by bare infinitive[edit]

  • Modals Verbs: Can/Could May/might Shall/Should Will/Would Must Needn't Would Rather Had better
  • Let s.o do sth. Make s.o do sth. Help s.o (to) do

e.g. I might go to bed. You should do more exercise.

Verbs with both forms[edit]

  • Verbs followed by infinitive or gerund without change of meaning:

Like Dislike Hate Begin Love Detest Start Adore Loathe....

-situacion continua: I like playing tennis -situacion concreta: I would like to play basketball instead

  • Verbs followed by infinitive or gerund with change of meaning:

Remember Regret Forget Try Stop Mean Go on

For example:

Efford: I tried to lift the box Experiment: I tried lifting the box

I really want: I mean to be a ballet dancer Implies: It means doing lots of exercices