A gerund is a traditional grammatical term for a verb form that ends in -ing and functions as a noun. A gerund (also known as an -ing form) with its objects, complements, and modifiers is called a gerund phrase, or simply a noun phrase.
We use the Gerund or the Infinitive after the following verbs. There are two possible structures after these verbs.
Gerund: verb + -ing Infinitive: verb + person + to-infinitive
Some verbs take ‘to-infinitive’ clauses and some take an ‘-ing’ clause.
For example, ‘hope’, ‘expect’, ‘learn’ normally take ‘to-infinitive’: ‘I learnt to swim in Australia last summer.’ ‘I expect to get high marks in this exam because I put in a lot of work for it.’ ‘I hope to recover in time for my business trip to Indonesia in July.’
After some verbs, e.g. ‘tell’, ‘advise’, ‘ask’, ‘to-infinitive’ follows the object:
‘We asked them to show us the way.’ ‘He advised me to drive more slowly through the village.’ ‘I told him to be quiet.’
Other verbs, such as ‘enjoy’, ‘finish’, ‘admit’, ‘mind’, ‘feel like’, ‘can’t help’, ‘look forward to’ take an ‘-ing’ clause:
‘I can’t help feeling that it’s going to rain before we get home.’ ‘I feel like stopping work now and coming back to it later. ‘ ‘Do you mind not talking in here? Speaking is not allowed in the library.’ ‘He admitted taking the bribe and leaking the documents to the press.’ ‘I always enjoy listening to Mozart whenever I’m feeling stressed.’ ‘She finished cleaning the floor and then she dusted the room.’ ‘I look forward to hearing from you.’
‘Prevent’ is followed by an object + (from) + an ‘-ing’ clause.
‘I prevented him from stealing the painting.’
Some verbs such as begin, start, like, love, hate, continue, cease can take either a ‘to-infinitive’ or an ‘-ing’ clause and there is usually little or no difference in meaning between them:
‘I like to read in the bath.’ ‘I like reading in the bath.’ ‘I continued to work till Mary came in and then we had supper.’ ‘I continued working till Mary came in and then we had supper.’
Sometimes the meaning does change:
‘I stopped smoking when I married Susan.’ = I gave up smoking when I married Susan. ‘I stopped to smoke a cigarette.’ = I stopped what I was doing in order to smoke a cigarette.
In this example, ‘decide to’ would be the norm:
‘She has decided to model clothes for both the Spanish and the French fashion houses this year.’
‘Decide’ + ‘-ing’ would only be possible if the ‘-ing’ form functions as a gerund, as in:
‘She decided modelling was the best career for her.’ ‘I decided smoking was bad for me.’