Why is it that we have to use the gerund form for the first example? I have been told that it is not grammatical to use the infinitive form.

For some verbs, it's okay:

I wanted to study English.
I had to study English.
I needed to study English.
I tried to study English.
I traveled to study English.

But, for some verbs, it's incorrect:

I ended up to study English.

Why is that the case?

  • @What do you mean by "I end up studying English"? Do you not want to say something like this instead: I ended up studying English because the French class was fully booked"
    – Baz
    Oct 13, 2013 at 10:46
  • 1
    @Baz, OP is asking for 'verb' + to 'verb' vs. 'verb + 'verb'-ing construct, that's all.
    – user2903
    Oct 13, 2013 at 10:52
  • @J.R. does your OK list include cases in which using 'verb-ing' is illegal? I ask because I'm unsure one cannot say 'I tried studying English'. In fact, according to my layman theory, which I will explain within the next week, both are correct, 'to study' and 'studying', albeit they have different meaning.
    – user2903
    Oct 13, 2013 at 13:48
  • @Whiskey With try, there is a semantic distinction. Try to VERB means "attempt to VERB", try VERBing may mean either that or "experiment with VERBing". Oct 13, 2013 at 14:54

2 Answers 2


This is what the grammarians call "licensing". It lies on the border between the rules of grammar and the "dictionary" meaning of individual words.

That is, grammar defines a small set of non-finite clause constructions which can act as the complements of verbs. Beyond this, however, each verb accepts—"licenses"—only a subset of these. In the case of the phrasal verb end up that subset has only one member: the gerund clause.

But each verb has its own licensing pattern, which you have to learn as an integral part of the verb's meaning.

Here are some more questions dealing with this topic:


A gerund is used after phrasal verbs. Other examples: He only cares about partying and looks forward to getting himself really drunk when he should stick to studying.

All other examples you give are not of phrasal verbs. Why the infinitive is used there is a different issue.

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