Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Verb patterns - quick quizzes

When one verb follows another they can follow one of several patterns, for example:
  • verb + to-infinitive
  • verb + -ing form (gerund)
  • verb + to--infinitive / -ing form
  • verb + object + (to-) infinitive
  • verb + object + -ing form
  • verb + that clause
There are unfortunately no hard and fast rules as to what pattern to use, although a to-infinitive often looks forward and/or involves an action - He decided to do it (he decided, then he did it), while an -ing form often looks back or is more about reactions, thought processes or emotions - She enjoys kite surfing (she enjoys the experience).
There's a link at the top of this page to a reference page with lists of verbs and their possible patterns, but the only real way to learn these patterns is through practice and exposure: ideally, 'afford to do' and 'admit doing', etc, should come as automatically to learners as 'sing, sang, sung'.
The exercises in this post (especially the first one), will hopefully help you practise these patterns, so that they become automatic. There are also a couple of quizzes to practise using dependent prepositions after verbs.

Verbs that sometimes take an infinitive of purpose, meaning 'in order to', are not generally included in these quizzes.
In most of the quizzes you click on 'Start quiz' to begin. A verb will appear above the table. Add it to the appropriate list by clicking on the box in the table where you think it should go. There are also a couple of standard exercises.
You can also see the verbs listed according to the patterns they follow. Click on the buttons following the answers at the end of this post.

1. Infinitive or -ing form (gerund)

The first three sets contain the most frequently used verbs that take either a to-infinitive or an -ing form. Sets 4-6 include less common verbs.
Quiz 1
... to do ... doing

2. Verbs that can be followed by both infinitives and -ing forms

There some verbs which can be used with either an infinitive or an -ing form.
Sometimes there is no difference in meaning, for example begin, sometimes there is only a little difference, for example like, and sometimes the meaning is completely different, for example remember.
Little or small differenceDifference in meaning
These verbs fall into three groups
  • No difference in meaning - including:
    attempt, begin, cease, continue, intend, start
  • A small difference - including:
    can't bear, dread, hate, like, love, prefer
  • Completely different
    remember, forget, try, stop, go on, regret, mean

Infinitive or -ing form, with a different meaning

Exercise 2aComplete the sentences using the same verb from the box in each pair, once in a to-infinitive once and once in an -ing form.
ask · close · have · miss · study · tell · visit
1. I'll never forget Blackpool for the first time.
Don't forget the cathedral while you're there, it's really spectacular.
2. Did you remember the window before we came out?
Do you remember the window before we came out?
3. Have you tried Steve? He usually knows about these things.
I tried him, but he wouldn't listen.
4. After getting a history degree at Manchester he went on law at Oxford.
After his first degree, he went on in order to get a master's degree.
5. This extra work means our lunch date, I'm afraid
I didn't mean our lunch date, but I'm afraid something came up at work.
6. We stopped lunch at a small country inn.
We stopped big lunches for health reasons.
7. I regret you that your work has not been up to standard.
He regrets her about his problem, as now the whole company seem to know.

Infinitive or -ing form, with a slightly different meaning

Exercise 2bComplete the sentences using the verbs in brackets. In each pair of sentences, use a to-infinitive once and an -ing form once.
1. This movie was so frightening I could hardly bear (watch) it.
She couldn't bear (think) that she might have been wrong.
2. He always dreaded (go) to the dentist.
I dread (think) what she'll say when she finds out.
3. He hates (deal) with difficult customers.
I hate (admit) it, but I think you were probably right all along.
4. I like (have) the car serviced at least every two years.
She likes (have) her grandchildren live near her.
5. Do you usually prefer (watch) films at the cinema or at home?
On that particular occasion he preferred (not make) any comment.
6. Well, I propose (go) out to the country. It'll do us all a lot of good.
I propose (wait) for him here. The rest of you can do what you like.

3. Verb + object + infinitive or -ing form (gerund)

Most verbs followed by object + to-infinitive are connected with causing somebody to do something, for example, to tell sb to do sth. Note that there are three verbs in this group which don't take to, and one that can be used with or without to.
Verbs followed by object + -ing fall largely fall into two main groups - expressing an attitude, eg: to like somebody('s) doing sth, and verbs of perception, eg: to see sb doing sth
Quiz 3
... somebody (to) do something... somebody doing something
We can divide each of these two groups into three subgroups:

verb + object + infinitive

  • verb + object + to-infinitive - express a causal effect

    ask, cause, encourage, force, order, tell, etc somebody to do sth

  • verb + object + infinitive (without to) - 3 verbs

    have, let, make somebody do sth

  • verb + object + infinitive (without or without to) - 1 verb

    help somebody (to) do sth

verb + object + -ing form (gerund)

  • verbs expressing attitudes and emotions - in formal English these are sometimes used with possessives

    like, hate, approve of, etc somebody('s) doing sth

  • verbs of perception - these verbs can also be used with a bare infinitive - an -ing form suggest that the action was in progress when perceived, a bare infinitive suggests that the subject perceived the whole, completed action. Possessives cannot be used with these verbs.

    see, hear, notice, etc somebody doing sth / somebody do sth

  • a few verbs take neither a possessive nor a bare infinitive

    catch, discover, find, smell somebody doing sth

4. Verb + preposition (+ -ing) something

This exercise concerns dependent prepositions after certain verbs - the preposition can usually be followed by a noun phrase or an -ing form. In some cases there may be more than one answer.
Quiz 4

5. Verb + somebody + preposition + -ing

This quiz is to practise dependent prepositions followed bt an -ing form that come after the object, a person, with certain verbs. For some prepositions there is only one verb listed.
Quiz 5
ofonwithup to

6. Verb + that clause

Many verbs can be followed by a that-clause, especially, for example, reporting verbs - He said that he would be late.
Some verbs need an object before the that-clause - He told me that he would be late.
And some verbs, mostly connected with asking and ordering, take a special structure with a bare infinitive or should + bare infinitive He insisted I be (should) at the meeting. The version without should is common in American English, but is considered rather formal in British English.
Some verbs may fall into more than one category.
Quiz 6
verb + that + clauseverb + obj + that + clauseverb + that + subj + (should) + bare infinitive


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  1. Intend should be in verb + -ing form...

    1. Both are possible. From Longman Dictionary:

      intend to do something
      I intend to spend the night there.

      intend doing something
      We intend looking at the situation again.

      But I would suggest that "intend to do" is far more common.