Gerund or infinitive following verb

      1 Comment on Gerund or infinitive following verb
If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it:
ntent/uploads/2016/06/ConfusedStudent-264x300.jpg 264w, 352w" sizes="(max-width: 264px) 100vw, 264px" /> Image by Stuart Miles at

A reader asks the following grammar question:

In the following sentence, which is correct, reading or to read and why? A good study habit is to read/reading English books.

What about the following, to travel or traveling, and why: My goal is to travel/traveling around the world.

In the first sentence, “a good study habit” requires a noun for completion; therefore, the gerund is correct: reading.

In the second sentence “my goal” could be either a noun or a verb; therefore either one would be correct.

Whether a verb is followed by a gerund or infinitive can vary depending on the verb or the meaning.

  • I forgot returning the book (I returned the book, but forgot that I returned it)
  • I forgot to return the book (I didn’t return the book, because I forgot to return it.)

Some verbs can only take a gerund; others can only take an infinitive.

  • I came to see the error of my ways (infinitive:¬†correct).
  • I came seeing the error of my ways (gerund: not correct).
  • I prefer to play the piano on Tuesdays. /¬†I prefer playing the piano on Tuesdays. (both correct)
  • I see playing the flute as a good career option. (gerund: correct)
  • I see to play the flute… (infinitive: not correct).