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 May 11 '18 at 9:33
  • What gerund? To give is an infinitive. To make is an infinitive. – Jeff Morrow May 11 '18 at 14:03
  • @JeffMorrow Giving, of course. They're presumably asking why they can't say The aim of this report is giving suggestions... – userr2684291 Jul 21 '18 at 18:28
  • The aim goes to purpose, so "to" is best. Anyway, you cannot use a gerund here (giving). – Lambie Aug 29 '19 at 14:37

When it comes to the use of gerunds and to-infinitives, there can'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" is also to 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.

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for?Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.