Most dictionaries just say "skip + Noun", for example, "skip school/class/the meeting/ breakfast...".

I don't understand why they don't have the structure "skip doing something" such as "skip cooking breakfast".

Ving is a gerund and a gerund is also a noun.

The reason I'm asking this question is that when you see a structure "verb + Noun" in the dictionary, you can not automatically deduce you can use "that verb + a gerund".

For example, have a look at the verb attempt in the dictionary,

they say we can say

attempt something

The prisoners attempted an escape, but failed.

If we think that "something" is a noun and a gerund (Ving) is also a noun, then we may come up with this structure "attempt Ving" for example, "She never attempted explaining her behaviour to her family." which is not correct. Because the dictionary also says "attempt to do something" for example, "She never attempted to explain her behaviour to her family."

English is not math that we can deduce structures based on grammar we learn right?

  • 2
    Right, English is not math. In particular, patterns can be suggestive, but can never be conclusive. On the other hand, that’s the way patterns work in math, too… Commented May 28 at 16:13
  • 3
    Utterances like When I make this recipe, I skip sifting the flour and just dump it into the bowl are completely acceptable and quite common. Commented May 28 at 16:16
  • No, it isn't but there is memorization required to reach a high level with this issue you bring up.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 28 at 16:20
  • Dictionaries are not grammar.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 28 at 18:56
  • 2
    I think you've misunderstood something with "She never attempted explaining her behaviour to her family." which is not correct. Syntactically, that's perfectly okay. I think it's just that idiomatically, we usually prefer the infinitive after attempt, try [to do something]. I can't deny that we almost always use the infinitive after, for example, seek, struggle, but I'm not convinced that means I struggle understanding him is actually "incorrect, ungrammatical". It's just "non-idiomatic". Commented May 28 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


There are certain verbs that can only be followed by a gerund or an infinitive. Others only take the gerund and still others only take the infinitive. They have to be memorized. Many of these verbs are listed on the website given below.

For example: anticipate or appreciate are followed by gerunds. So is skip: We skipped cooking dinner last night.

verbs followed by gerunds, infinitives or both

Others are followed by the infinitive: attempt to do something is one of them.

See the lists given on that website (too long to reproduce here).

Finally, there is list of verbs that can take either with little change in meaning:

These are very common and need to be memorized for sure and the list is short so I'm posting it here from that website. The others can be referred to until learned:

Example: It started to rain. / It started raining.

can’t bear
can’t stand
propose start

  • Indeed. This is why teachers shouldn't claim that a gerund is a noun, or a "verbal noun," or a "verb that acts like a noun." You just need to memorize which verbs can be used with one and which verbs can't.
    – alphabet
    Commented May 29 at 1:16
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    This is mostly true, but I think it deserves a note that there's a difference between "try to do" (please try to keep your essay under 1000 words) and "try doing" (if you get an error, try refreshing the page). I see this mistake all the time from learners. Commented May 29 at 2:39
  • @the-baby-is-you Yes, and actually, there is a nuance between any verb that take both to and ing. Too long to go into here.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 29 at 14:01

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