Lesson 1: Verbs that change their meaning with gerunds / infinitives

Some verbs are used with the gerund or the infinitive with a change of meaning. The most important ones are 'remember', 'try' and 'stop'.

Remember + gerund

You have a memory of something that's happened in the past. It's like a movie in your head.

  • I remember going to the beach when I was a child. (= I have a memory of going to the beach.)
  • He remembers closing the door. (= He has a memory of closing the door.)

Remember + to + infinitive

You think of something that you need to do.

  • I remembered to buy milk. (= I was walking home and the idea that I needed milk came into my head, so I bought some.)
  • She remembered to send a card to her grandmother. (= The idea to send a card came into her head and she sent the card.)

Try + gerund

This is when you do something as an experiment. The thing you do is not difficult, but you want to see if doing it will have the result that you want.

  • I wanted to stop smoking, so I tried using nicotine patches. (= Using nicotine patches was easy, but I wanted to know if it would help me stop smoking.)
  • She tried giving up chocolate, but it didn't help her lose weight. (It was easy for her to give up chocolate. She gave it up to see if it would help her lose weight, but it didn't.)

Try + to + infinitive

This is when the thing you do itself is difficult. In the present tense or future tense, this means you might not succeed in doing it. In the past tense, it means that you made an effort to do the thing, but you did not succeed.

  • I'll try to carry the suitcase, but it looks too heavy for me.
  • I tried to give up chocolate, but it was too hard. I always ate some when my friends offered it to me.

Stop + gerund

When we stop doing something it means the verb in the gerund is the thing that we stop. It can mean 'stop forever' or 'stop at that moment'.

  • I stopped working when I was expecting a baby. (Working is the thing I stopped).
  • My grandmother stopped driving when she was 85. (Driving is the thing she stopped).

Stop + to + infinitive

In this case, we stop something else in order to do the verb in the infinitive.

  • I stopped to eat lunch. (I stopped something else, maybe working or studying, because I wanted to eat lunch.)
  • She was shopping and she stopped to get a cup of coffee. (She stopped shopping because she wanted to get a cup of coffee.)

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