MAY 2002

To ING or not to ING, that is the question!

"Are you finished cooking supper?" " I decided to order a pizza."
Why do we say "finished cooking" and "decided to order"? For some reason when two English verbs are used together in a sentence, the second verb will either be an "-ing" form or an infinitive form (to + verb).

People who grow up in English-speaking countries seem to learn these patterns automatically. They just know that some things "sound right" and other things do not. If you have grown up speaking another language, then each one of these verbs will be a problem because there is no pattern or system to learn.

Every example must be memorised. However, the more you read and listen to English, the closer you will come to being able to "feel" which usage is right. Practice, practice, practice …

Fun Exercise A: Circle the correct verb form in the following sentences.

< 1. Grace could not imagine (to wear) (wearing) her hair in curlers when she leaves the house.
2. Mark agreed (to wash) (washing) the dishes after supper.
3. Most hikers avoid (to walk) (walking) in bare feet.
4. The store manager offered (to pay) (paying) for the Christmas party.
5. A nurse should not fail (to give) (giving) the correct medicine to her patients.
6. Betty's new job involved (to lift) (lifting) heavy boxes.
7. Jim's little brother admitted (to break) (breaking) the model airplane.
8. Have you decided (to go) (going) fishing with us?
9. Mother said, "Will you please stop (to slurp) (slurping) your soup!"
10. The little old lady attempted (to cross) (crossing) the busy road on foot.

Fun exercise C: Put a correct verb form in the blanks in the following sentences. Use the following verbs: solve, perform, see, buy, paint, clean, live,
1. Donald managed _________________ the difficult problem.
2. The doctor decided ________________the operation before it was too late.
3. One should not delay _________________ a doctor after an automobile accident.
4. Can you afford _____________________________ a new car this year?
5. When will you finish ___________________________ the walls?
6. The old man offered ___my windshield while I waited for the traffic light to change.
7. Can you imagine _______________________ in an old castle during the winter?