I'm always confused in using a verb after a verb.

For example:

  • I prefer using the computer.
  • I prefer to use the computer.
  • I like to help people.
  • I like helping people.
  • ... etc.

Actually the verb+ing is not verb, but I cannot decide when to use "to".

  • 2
    You can look up verbs that "take" ing. avi.cuaieed.unam.mx/uapa/avi/ing_3/U_3/ing3_u3_t2/index.html Some take either to or ing, some don't.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 14:43
  • The catenative verbs "prefer" and "like" both take either a to- infinitival clause as complement or a gerund-participial one.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 15:00
  • According to the link Lambie shared, it depends on the verb you use. As far as I understand, I need to memorize them. I've not heard this word "catenative" before. Thank you @BillJ
    – Emre
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 15:06
  • 1
    I only mentioned the verbs "prefer" and "like" because they were the ones you used in your examples. Other verbs differ. Catenative verbs are those that take another non-finite verb as complement, as in your examples. This link gives a list of which verbs take which complements: list
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 15:13
  • 3
    Does this answer your question? prefer doing vs prefer to do
    – None
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


1 I prefer [using the computer].

[2] I prefer [to use the computer].

[3] I like [to help people].

[4] I like [helping people].

"Prefer" and "like" take either to-infinitival or gerund-participial clauses as complement.

Clauses like these whose verbs have an immediate non-finite clause as their complement (so they form a 'chain'), are called catenative constructions.

Some verbs take infinitivals, some take gerund-participials (_ing forms), and others take past-particpials. And some verbs can take more than one type.

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