Using Second Verbs: Rules and an Exercise

“Adoration of the Magi” Fra Angelico, 1433

Infinitive= to+verb: to go, to make, to play
Base Form= verb with no change: go, make, play
Gerund= verb+ing: going, making, playing
Auxiliary= First Verb or Helping Verb

Every language has a powerful motor. That motor is the power of verb combination. If you know how verbs combine, you find that you can converse more easily and more accurately. Listen to yourself speak in your own language, and you’ll very often find that you’re combining verbs. In English, there are three kinds of second verbs: Base Form, Infinitive, and Gerund. Which one you use depends on the first verb. If you use a modal auxiliary, the second verb will always be the Base Form. If you use auxiliaries:

have, going, want, need, decide, ought, able

your second verb will be the infinitive. If you use auxiliary verbs:

keep on, enjoy, feel like, avoid, consider, finish, have trouble

the second verb will be the gerund. There are some verbs that are followed by either the gerund or the infinitive such as

prefer, start, try, continue, hate, like, begin

Exercise: Choose the correct form of the second verb.

1. Steve must put away all the tools now. (put)

2. The students can’t understand this complicated lesson. (understand)

3. Have you ever considered enrolling in a computer course? (enroll)

4. We would travel in Europe if we had more time and money. (travel)

5. I don’t want to throw out these old letters. (throw)

6. They’re going to get married in October. (get)

7. We should improve our typing skills so we can write online exercises more easily. (improve)

8. I don’t like to attend long meetings. (attend)

9. You ought to help your friends if they’re in trouble. (help)

10. We need to learn the driver’s manual for the test. (learn)

11. Tom is late. He might be stuck in traffic. (be)

12. I wasn’t able to explain the problem to the employer clearly enough. (explain)

13. I might finish my homework before the party begins. (finish)

14. I sometimes have trouble finding a parking place. (find)

15. He likes to drink coffee in the morning. (drink)

16. Mary could run 5 miles every day when she was younger.(run)

17. We’ll attend City College next semester. (attend)

18. I won’t be able to go to the party with you because I have too much homework.(go)

19. Dave has to pick up his brother after school today. (pick up)

20. You know, you ought to buy a larger notebook. It’s better for writing. (buy)

21. Steve should wear a jacket today because it’s very cold out.(wear)

22. Andy wants to find a job in San Francisco because he likes that city. (find)

23. We don’t want to move away but our company has changed its location. (move)

24. The students will study a lot of grammar this semester. (study)

25. We enjoy reading and listening to stories and articles on the internet. (read, listen)

26. We try to learn as much as we can about the sounds of English. (learn)

27. They avoid driving on the freeway during rush hour. There are too many cars on the road. (drive)

28. I’d like to ride my bicycle in the country this Saturday. (ride)

29. Sylvia and Roger are going to get married after they graduate from college. (get)

30. They decided to travel to Hawaii for their honeymoon. (travel)

31. I prefer walkingto walk rather than taking the bus. (walk)

32. The police car began to followfollowing my car yesterday. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. (follow)