Verbs followed by to – infinitive and -ing form with a change in meaning

In the previous articles about Verb Patterns we have considered the cases of using the Infinitive, as well as words and phrases followed by verbs with -ing form.

Now we are going to learn the verbs which can take both forms but change their meaning. So, learn the following rules if you don’t want to confuse your opponent and be misunderstood.

  1. Forget + to-inf – it means to forget something that you needed or need to do. We are speaking about some task to be completed.

I need to go to the shop again. I forgot to buy some milk. (milk wasn’t bought, I forgot about it)

It is her birthday tomorrow. Don’t forget to call her.


Forget + -ing form – it means to forget the process, so we don’t remember if we did something or not.

I will never forget jumping with the parachute for the first time. (I will never forget the process)

I forgot locking the door. I need to check it again. (the door may be closed as well as open)

 The next word has the same logic:

  1. Remember + to-inf – remember that I still need to do something.

Do you remember to tell them about the meeting? (You haven’t done it yet and I ask if you remember that you need to do it)


Remember + -ing form – remember the process.

I remember sending the email. Why haven’t you got it? ()

  1. Mean + to-inf – to have an intention

She didn’t mean to insult you.


Mean + -ing form – involve

This work means travelling a lot.

  1. Regret + to-inf – usually this construction is used in the present tense and followed by such verbs as say, tell, inform. It means that a person feels sorry that he or she has to say something unpleasant.

We regret to inform you that you haven’t passed the test.


Regret + -ing form – it means to feel sorry about some action.

She regrets selling her car.

  1. Stop + to-inf – it means to stop some activity in order to do something else.

They stopped to buy some water, then continued driving.


Stop + -ing form – to finish, give up.

I decided to stop eating sweets because I don’t want to put on weight.

  1. Try + to-inf – to make an attempt, to do your best.

I tried to lift the bag, but it was too heavy.


Try + -ing form – try something as an experiment.

I have a terrible headache. I tried taking some painkiller, but it doesn’t work.

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