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English Verb Order

English verb order

English Verb Order

What do we mean exactly by English verb order? Well, when should you use a gerund, “to + infinitive” or a bare infinitive?

Native speakers know that the following sentences are correct: 

  • I might see her later. 
  • Did you consider leaving him a message? 
  • Take this to them to obtain your purchase. 
  • This program is for helping others. 

Why can’t we say the following? 

  • I might seeing her later. = X. 
  • Did you consider leave him a message? = X. 
  • Take this to them obtain your purchase. = X.   
  • This program is for help others. / this program is to help others. = X.

How can you, the English learner, know when you need to use either “to + infinitive”, the bare infinitive or a gerund?

Fortunately, there are rules that you can follow so that you can correctly ascertain which verbal structure to use. Check out the links above on “to + infinitive”, the bare infinitive and the gerund. 

Gerunds also function as subjects and objects

A quick tip that will save you heaps of confusion. Remember, in English, gerunds are fairly dynamic, in that, not only do they function as verbal gerunds such as: 

  • I’m swimming this evening. 

The gerund “swimming” is verbal in nature and is part of the present continuous tense

  • Swimming is fun. 

The gerund “swimming” is functioning as a subject (nominal subject) and not as a verb. 

  • She loves swimming

The gerund “swimming” is functioning as an object (nominal object) and not as a verb. 

The fact that gerunds function both as verbs and as nouns is important when learning about English verb order. Check out the links above to get a complete explanation of bare infinitives, to + infinitives and gerunds.

What about when to use “to” or “for”? 

These two prepositions are a little trickier, but thankfully, there are rules as to their usage, rules that you follow with relative ease. Let’s take a closer look: