Verb Patterns‏‎ in English Grammar

Parts Of Speech

45 Record: I Want To Hold Your Hand by the BeatlesOften in English‏‎ we need to join two verbs‏‎ together in the same sentence.

When we do this, we can use different verb patterns depending on which verb comes first and here you’ll find some of the more common verb patterns.

In a TEFL class you probably wouldn’t spend a lesson teaching these patterns as such but you will come across them in class in which case it’s often useful to point them out to students so that they are aware of them. We would recommend doing this on an as-needed basis as and when they arise in class.

Verb + Full Infinitive

The first pattern is when we join a verb to a full infinitive, that is an infinitive with to:

{verb} + {to infinitive}

I want to hold your hand.
If you happen to see them, say ‘Hello’ for me.
It’s getting late, I ought to leave.

Verbs that follow this pattern include: afford, agree, appear, arrange, ask, attempt, be, bear, beg, begin, care, choose, consent, dare, decide, determine, expect, fail, forget, happen, hate, have, help, hesitate, hope, intend, learn, like, love, manage, mean, need, neglect, offer, ought, plan, prefer, prepare, pretend, promise, propose, refuse, regret, remember, seem, start, swear, threaten, trouble, try, used, want, wish.

With certain verbs we can also include an object, often a person:

{verb} + {object} + {to infinitive}

I would advise you to go.
I want him to leave immediately.
I reminded them to arrive earlier tomorrow morning.

Verbs that follow this pattern include: advise, allow, ask, bear, beg, cause, command, compel, encourage, expect, forbid, force, get, hate, help, instruct, intend, invite, leave, like, mean, need, oblige, order, permit, persuade, prefer, press, promise, recommend, request, remind, teach, tell, tempt, trouble, want, warn, wish.

Verb + Bare Infinitive

Notice that sometimes we need to use the bare infinitive – that is, an infinitive without the to.

{verb} + {object} + {bare infinitive}

I could feel him watch me.
I made them leave.

Verbs that follow this pattern include most – but not all – of the modal verbs‏‎, the auxiliary verbs‏‎ and the verbs of perception‏‎: could, feel, hear, help, let, make, may, might, must, notice, see, shall, should, watch, will, would. In the TEFL classroom you will need to mention these specifically.

However, also note that when these sentences are made into the passive voice‏‎ they take the full infinitive.

{passive verb} + {to infinitive}

He was made to feel unwelcome.
They were seen to enter the building after dark.

Verb + Gerund

The gerund is the -ing form of the verb.

{verb} + {gerund}

I considered retiring.
I enjoy running first thing in the morning.

Verbs that follow this pattern include: admit, advise, appreciate, avoid, can’t help, can’t stand, consider, contemplate, delay, deny, detest, dislike, endure, enjoy, escape, excuse, face, feel like, finish, forgive, give up, go on, imagine, involve, keep, leave off, mention, mind, miss, postpone, practice, prefer, put off, resent, resist, risk, stop, suggest, understand.

Verb + Gerund or Infinitive

Some verbs can take either the gerund or the infinitive.

I like skiing.
I like to ski.

I love lying in the sun with a good book.
I love to lie in the sun with a good book.

For most TEFL classes you can explain that there is very little difference – if any – in meaning between these two and speakers will use them almost interchangeably so in most cases either is acceptable and both are grammatically correct.

However… there are some important exceptions:

Remember to visit my mother.
Remember visiting my mother?

In this case the construction with the infinitive tells us about the future while the construction with the gerund tells us about the past.

Remember to visit my mother. = don’t forget to visit my mother; you must remember now that you will visit my mother in the near future
Remember visiting my mother? = you visited her in the past and now I am asking you to remember it

Verbs in this category include: advise, allow, attempt, begin, can’t bear, continue, forbid, forget, go on, hate, hear, intend, like, love, permit, prefer, propose, regret, remember, see, start, stop, try, watch.

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