Like is it a gerund or an infinitive?
Every day we express our preferences, likes and dislikes for things, people, or actions in one way or another. The most common verbs for this are to love, to prefer, to like, and to hate. Nouns or verbs are used after them. The latter can be in both infinitive and gerund form. Let’s see what this depends on.
Like + gerund or infinitive: the combination features
In English, there are a number of verbs after which only the infinitive can be used, for example, to promise, to ask, or only the gerund, for example, to enjoy. There are also verbs after which we can use both the infinitive and the gerund, but then the meaning of the sentence will change, for example, stop to do – to stop doing something, and stop doing – to stop doing something.
Finally, there is verbs a third group, after which you can again put both a gerund and an infinitive, and the meaning, will change slightly, but there are nuances. This verbs group includes the preference verbs: to like, to love, to prefer, to hate.
With the gerund, the emphasis is on the process, emphasizing getting (or not getting) pleasure from what you are doing.
I like getting up early in summer. — Я люблю рано вставать летом (я наслаждаюсь именно самим процессом раннего вставания).
I hate dancing, so don’t ask me to. — Я ненавижу танцевать, так что не проси меня.
I prefer walking to taking the bus. — Я предпочитаю идти пешком, чем ехать на автобусе (I like walking more than taking the bus, I like the process.).
When you use the infinitive, the meaning becomes a little different: you are expressing a preference or showing a familiar action, as well as something you don’t necessarily like, but something that you think is useful, right, or wise.
I like to be punctual. — Мне нравится быть пунктуальным (важно быть пунктуальным, и я такой).
I hate to lie, but sometimes I do. — Ненавижу врать, но иногда так делаю (врать нехорошо, но иногда я лгу).
If you prefer to walk, it will take you 30 minutes to school. — Если вы предпочитаете пройтись пешком, до школы доберетесь за 30 минут (you choose now, you want, and you do not like to walk in principle more than anything else does).
Note! The verb to enjoy, which also belongs to the preference verbs group, is used only with a gerund.
I enjoy cooking new dishes. — Я обожаю готовить новые блюда.
Preference verbs and the subjunctive mood
If you want to say that you would or would not like to do something, then you express your preferences or desires now. This will require the following construction:
would + like/love/prefer/hate + to do.
Would most often be shortened to ‘d after a pronoun.
I’d like to write you a letter. Can you tell me your address? — Я бы хотела написать тебе письмо. Скажешь свой адрес?
They’d hate to cause a problem. — Они не хотели бы создавать проблему.
I would prefer not to participate in this competition. — Я бы предпочел не участвовать в этом соревновании.
In this case, only the infinitive form is used after the preference verbs. Compare the following sentences.
I like dancing in the rain. — Мне нравится танцевать под дождем (предпочтение, наслаждение процессом в принципе, всегда).
I would like to dance in the rain. — Я бы хотел потанцевать под дождем (желание сейчас).
After the construction would + preference verb, you can use the infinitive in the form Perfect, then it will mean that you wanted something in the past and regret that you could not do it.
I would like to have learned Chinese, but now it is very difficult for me to memorize new words. — Я бы хотел выучить китайский язык, но сейчас мне очень сложно запоминать новые слова.
Do you want to know even better when to use the infinitive or gerund after verbs? Do you want to learn to speak English fluently, or do you need to improve your English for a job interview? At the EnglishPapa you can do it all in a way that’s comfortable for yo.
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