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Old 05-04-2008, 03:10 PM
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Default Gerunds and Infinitives

Does anyone know:

Is there any rule or any trick students can learn about when to use a gerund and when to use an infinitive? I know there is a group of words which are followed by a gerund, a group followed by infinitives, a group that can take either with no change in meaning, and a group that can take either but with a change in meaning. Is the only way to learn these to memorize them?

I JUST yesterday learned that only a gerund can be the object of a preposition: I passed the test without studying.

I can't imagine why after more than 20 years of teaching and studying, I never came across that rule before. What other rules about gerunds and infinitives have I missed that I can share with my students?

Is there a reason we say I want TO GO and not I want GOING? How do other teachers deal with gerunds and infinitives? Or do you even deal with them as a separate topic?
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:07 PM
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Default Four blind ESL teachers walk into a classroom …

Dear Maria,

I wish that I could tell you that I know some rule or trick that didn’t involve memorizing lists of words, but I don’t. However, in addition to the “Azar texts,” you may want to take a peek at the Intermediate Focus on Grammar text. It, like many texts, uses lists of words for the most part, but it does give a few other common uses for gerunds and infinitives. For example, one of the six units on gerunds and infinitives is entitled “Gerunds After Prepositions.” This is somewhat helpful because there are many verbs and adjectives that are commonly followed by prepositions. (However, this probably means that students need to learn even more lists: that is, the lists of verbs and adjectives that are commonly followed by prepositions. Sigh!) Another unit is entitled “Infinitives of Purpose,” which is things like, “I’m going to my grandmother’s house to give her a basket of goodies.”

I know that this doesn’t answer your question, and it’s all rather basic stuff, but I like to draw on a variety of sources when I teach and/or study something. One author tells me that X is like a rope; another one tells me that X is like a pillar; a third tells me that X is like a fan; and the last one tells me that X is like a snake. If I look at all of the books — or, at least, more than one, then maybe I can see the elephant.

Sincerely,
Sam Simian
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Old 05-05-2008, 12:58 AM
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Default Stolen Advice

Dear Maria,

I just Googled “ESL methodology infinitives gerunds,” and I literally stole this from another site:

“[Raymond] Murphy in his English Grammar in Use says:

‘Often we use -ing for an action that happens before the first verb or at the same time:

A.) They denied stealing the money.
B.) I enjoy going out.

A.) [First, they stole money, and then they denied doing it.]
B.) [The enjoyment happens while I am out — for example, while I am out eating or shopping.]

Often we [use] to... for an action that follows the first verb:

C.) They decided to steal the money.
D.) I want to go out.

C.) [First, they decided do something (They made a decision.), and, later, they may do it — or they may have done it (They may steal X — or they may have stolen X.).]
D.) [First, I have an urge (I want to do something), and, later, I may do it (I may go out.).]'

This difference is helpful[,] but [it] does not explain all uses of -ing and to..."
http://www.englishforums.com/English...crmxd/post.htm



I do not own Raymond Murphy’s English Grammar in Use, and I’ve never used this advice while teaching gerunds and infinitives. (I really did just Google it a few moments ago.) Likewise, I haven’t really examined it closely to see if it’s a very good predictor of which form to use, but, on cursory inspection, it looks like it may be one of the pieces of the puzzle.

Sincerely,
Sam Simian

Last edited by Sam Simian; 05-06-2008 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 05-06-2008, 02:01 PM
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Default Subtle!

That's fascinating information you found, Sam. It may be too subtle for our students (imagine trying to think of those examples in meaning as you are formulating sentences**), but it is very helpful for me as a teacher to better understand why some are to- and others are -ing.

I wonder if anyone has a good activity for presenting and/or learning gerunds and infinitives?



** I have trouble determining -ed and -ing participle adjectives according to the "rules" of passive/active, complete/incomplete. I'm not sure how my students handle that, but however they manage to learn it, it is in spite of me, not because of me!
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:46 AM
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Default Not Sure I Follow

Hi, Maria.

Before I go on with a longer reply, I'd like to clarify that I understand what you said. Is it that you're confused about how to explain participial adjectives like charming and charmed?

Richard
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Old 06-04-2008, 05:16 AM
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Default

About gerunds and infinitives -- a good text like Understanding and Using English Grammar, in its chapters on gerunds and infinitives, brings up uses that you would never have thought of, that is, before you taught English grammar.

Except for decisions about why which verbs follow certain other verbs, the uses of gerunds and infinitives are clearly explained there.

I think the clarification of the verb forms offered by Sam Simian, as well as Murphy's comments and the comment on the forum, are valid, and about as close as we will come to saying anything more definite: the gerund tends to be backward-looking, while the infinitive tends to be forward-looking.

Inquiring students want to know why enjoy takes a gerund and want takes an infinitive. We've had a few threads on this topic on the Grammar Exchange. Here's one:

http://thegrammarexchange.infopop.cc...254#8926077254

But, as Maria notes, this is a concept that is probably too overwhelming for most students to think about. A teacher might add something about a tendency for a gerund or infinitive after a certain verb to be forward-looking or backward-looking, and show plenty of examples; I wouldn't want to make a blanket statement about this, though.

Rachel
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:18 PM
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Default participials

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grammar Guy View Post
Hi, Maria.

Before I go on with a longer reply, I'd like to clarify that I understand what you said. Is it that you're confused about how to explain participial adjectives like charming and charmed?

Richard
I understand the "rules": -ing for the cause of the feeling/state and -ed or past for the receiver. The thing is that I have to stop and analyze each case because it doesn't come naturally for me to think of them that way. Let's just say I don't teach it as smoothly and elegantly as I'd like to.

Another issue I have is exemplified in these sentences:

a. The forklift crushed the box.
b. The box was crushed by the forklift.
c. The news excited the employees.
d. The employees were excited by the news.

How are sentences b and d described? Are they passive voice with the complete verbs being "was crushed" and "were excited", or are the complete verbs just the BE verbs, and "crushed" and "excited" are participial adjectives?

Forgive me for not taking this to the Grammar Exchange. I don't want to start a trend of grammar discussion here, but since both Richard and Rachel are here......
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Old 06-04-2008, 11:05 PM
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Default Here’s my best guess.

a. The forklift crushed the box.
b. The box was crushed by the forklift.
c. The news excited the employees.
d. The employees were excited by the news.

How are sentences b and d described? Are they passive voice with the complete verbs being "was crushed" and "were excited", or are the complete verbs just the BE verbs, and "crushed" and "excited" are participial adjectives?




Dear Maria,

I would say that, in b and d, BE is an auxiliary verb and the past participle is the main verb:
subject + auxiliary verb (be) + main verb (past participle)
http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/v...ce_passive.htm
(I guess that you could say that "the complete verbs [in b and d are] 'was crushed' and 'were excited',” respectively.)

If the agents were missing — if there were no “by phrases,” I would consider the participles, simply, adjectives (stative passives) and BE the complete verbs: for example:
e. The box was crushed.
f. The employees were excited.
(Betty Azar’s criteria for the stative passive are: 1.) “no action is taking place [now] …”; 2.) “there is no [agent] …”; and, 3.) “the past participle functions as an adjective.” Understanding and Using English Grammar, 3rd Ed, p. 225.)

I believe that any verb that could function as a stative passive — for example, the past participles in e and f — could also function as a participial adjective — for example, g and h:
g. The crushed box contained grammar books.
h. The excited employees went to the liquor store to redeem their lottery winnings.
In other words, when the "VERBed form" is functioning as an adjective, I think that stative passive and participial adjective are just two different ways of the describing what is, in essence, the same thing, but stative passive is used when that thing is in the position that it’s in in e and f (that is, after the verb BE), and participial adjective is the term that’s used when that thing is in the position that it’s in in g and h (that is, before the noun that it modifies).

Well, that was my best guess.

Sincerely,
Sam Simian

P.S.
I went back and reread what I wrote. I need to think about it some more, but I think that when it’s functioning as an adjective (as in i and j), the “VERBing form” is similar to the "VERBed form" :
i. The news is exciting.
j. It is exciting news.

I am going to think about it, and, if necessary, I’ll edit this again. However, if anyone spots a mistake in what I’ve done, I’d appreciate it if they corrected me.

Last edited by Sam Simian; 06-10-2008 at 12:01 PM.
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