Is there a general rule telling me when I should use an Infinitive or a Gerund? For example, why is in this sentence a Gerund instead of an Infinitive?

"The aim of this report is to give suggestions to a group of elderly tourists on how to make the most of their morning in Roxburgh".

How do I decide whether I use each of them?

  • 2
    The noun "aim" only licenses (specifically permits) to-infinitival complements, not gerund-participial ones, as predicative complement. There's no simple rule that you can follow -- you just have to familiarise yourself with which heads license which complements.
    – BillJ
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 9:33
  • What gerund? To give is an infinitive. To make is an infinitive. Commented May 11, 2018 at 14:03
  • @JeffMorrow Giving, of course. They're presumably asking why they can't say The aim of this report is giving suggestions...
    – user3395
    Commented Jul 21, 2018 at 18:28
  • The aim goes to purpose, so "to" is best. Anyway, you cannot use a gerund here (giving).
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


When it comes to the use of gerunds and to-infinitives, there isn't one simple rule, unfortunately. More often than not, you have to remember patterns. Let's take the noun "aim" as an example:

  • Aim + of + to-inf: The aim of the project is to help the homeless. (this explains the use of "to give" in your sentence)
  • with the aim + of: We visit schools with the aim of getting kids interested in the issue.

"How to do something" also must be memorized. As a rule, "to" is followed by infinities but not always (e.g.I'm looking forward to hearing from you):

  • Will you tell me how to do it?

Answering you question "How do I decide whether I use each of them?", I'd say use a dictionary when in doubt. It usually gives all the information on patterns. For example, the Collins Dictionary does it like this:

enter image description here

Take note of what is given in the brackets.

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