UPDATED: I do really appreciate your explanations and taking time. Nevertheless, none of them isn't my answer. I, again, try to explain my specific question:

As I have already surfed the Internet and some dictionaries, I have realized the fact that, for instance the bold part, either ing form of a verb or an infinitive with to could appear after cannot. So, I am wondering the other same rules for italic parts.

cannot tolerate

cannot resist

cannot help

cannot bear and cannot stand both of them need either ing form or infinitive with to

cannot avoid

Any help would be greatly appreciated

  • I'm sorry, but your question is not clear to me. Generally you wouldn't use an -ing form after 'cannot'. The phrases as you've written them are grammatically correct. For example, "I cannot tolerate boorish people." "I cannot resist chocolate." "She cannot avoid the tollway on her way home."
    – michelle
    Dec 17, 2014 at 17:47

3 Answers 3


The verb which follows a modal verb (can/could, may/might, must, shall/should, will/would) in a verb group is always a ‘bare’ infinitive—that is, an infinitive which is not ‘marked’ with to. (The presence of not or an adverb does not affect this rule.) Marked infinitives and partiples cannot occur in this position.

okShe cannot toleratebare infinitive his rudeness.
She cannot to toleratemarked infinitive his rudeness.
She cannot toleratingpresent participle his rudeness.
She cannot toleratedpast participle his rudeness.
marks a form as ungrammatical

However, modal verbs can combine with progressive, perfect and passive constructions. When that is the case, it is only the first auxiliary after the modal which is cast in the infinitive. Subsequent auxiliaries and the main or ‘lexical’ verb take the form required by the construction. (But none of these constructions takes a marked infinitive).

PROGRESSIVE: okShe cannot bebare infinitive toleratingpresent participle his rudeness.
PERFECT: okShe cannot havebare infinitive toleratedpast participle his rudeness.
PASSIVE: okHis rudeness cannot bebare infinitive toleratedpast participle by her.
PERFECT PASSIVE: okHis rudeness cannot havebare infinitive beenpast participle toleratedpast participle by her.

  • Thanks but this is not my answer
    – nima
    Dec 17, 2014 at 18:33
  • @nima Do you mean which of the verbs you list take gerund clauses as their complements? --all of them may. Dec 17, 2014 at 18:36

First off, it is absolutely irrelevant if you use "can" or "cannot" before the verb, which–as StoneyB correctly pointed out–is always the bare infinitive when you use a modal verb.

However, if I understand your question correctly, you ask about how to know if you have to use the gerund or infinitive after the main verb.

I'm afraid but you have to learn them by heart. There's not even a rule of thumb. To make it worse, there are four types:

  • verbs that take gerund only
  • verbs that take infinitive only
  • verbs that take both, with similar or identical meaning
  • verbs that take both, but with different meaning

"I stopped smoking" means that you don't smoke any more; "I stopped to smoke", however, only suggests that you halted something, which is not mentioned, for a moment in order to smoke.

It's pretty impossible to go into details about each and every word but when search the Internet for "verb + infinitive + gerund", you often find the answer, especially for those verbs where gerund and infinitive uses have different meanings.
Additionally, you often find examples in learner's dictionaries.

  • +1 You understood the question better than I did. And it's even more complicated than you describe: some verbs take a that clause in addition to a gerund or infinitive, or instead of them. Jan 11, 2015 at 15:29

The verbs

are all followed by the -ing form.

  • I cannot resist pointing out that you skipped one! Dec 17, 2014 at 19:32

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