Verb patterns

by John November 01, 2022

What are verb patterns?
Have you ever heard of them?

As your English improves,  it’s important to know what verb patterns are in order to speak and write accurately.

Today we are going to take a look at verb patterns.

What are verb patterns?

When we use a verb in English with another verb, we call this a verb pattern.

verb + verb

Before we go into detail about this, we need to understand some basic grammar terms.

Gerund – a gerund is a noun we make by adding -ing on the end of the verb e.g Working

Infinitive – the infinitive is the base form of a verb e.g to be, to go , to eat etc.

Sometimes we use the infinitive with to, other times we use it without to.


When we have a verb followed immediately by another verb in a sentence, the second verb must be one of the following:

Gerund:                              Pete enjoys playing football.

Infinitive with to:               Sarah hopes to move to Dublin

Infinitive without to:         Matt will arrive tomorrow

Infinitive/Gerund:             I love dancing

                                            I love to dance

In these examples, the form of the second verb is determined by the first verb.

Let’s take a look at this in more detail.

Verb + Gerund

If the  verb ‘enjoy’ is followed immediately by another verb, we must use the gerund form of the second verb:

Pete enjoys playing football.

We cannot say Pete enjoys to play football.

Some other verbs that are followed by the gerund are:

consider       deny      miss      suggest        recommend

avoid        admit        finish     postpone     practice


Verb + Infinitive with to

If the verb ‘hope’ is followed immediately by another verb, we must use the infinitive + to form of the second verb:

Sarah hopes to move to Dublin.

We cannot say Sarah hopes moving to Dublin.

Some other verbs that are followed by the infinitive + to  are:

choose    decide     learn      mean       promise

ask        help        want     need         pretend


Modal Verb + Infinitive without to

A modal verb is always followed by the infinitive without ‘to’. The modal verb ‘ought’ is an exception – it is always followed by the infinitive with ‘to’.

Here are some examples:

Matt will arrive tomorrow.
We must finish this job today.
She could drive to the beach.
The children ought to do their homework.

Verb + Gerund or infinitive with to

Some verbs can be followed by either the infinitive or the gerund with no change in meaning. An example of this is the verb ‘to love’:

I love dancing
I love to dance

Some other verbs that are followed by either the gerund or the infinitive + to are:

like      hate      continue      can’t stand

prefer     start      propose

Verb patterns

When we use: verb + verb in English, the second verb must be either

a gerund

infinitive + to

infinitive without to


Test Yourself

Complete the sentences by choosing a verb and putting it in the correct form. Then check your answers to see if you were correct.

Example: I love…

Answer: I love going to the cinema. I love to go to the cinema.


  1. I am considering…
  2. I asked…
  3. Teachers should…
  4. I started…

Test Yourself

Choose the correct verb pattern

Verb patterns

1 / 8

We decided ___________ to the beach.

2 / 8

I am considering ________ a new course next year.

3 / 8

You should always ____________ care when you cross the road.

4 / 8

My girlfriend promised _________ me at 7pm.

5 / 8

I could _______ you up from your house.

6 / 8

My sister denied __________ the cookies that I made

7 / 8

My mother wouldn't let me __________ to nightclubs when I was young.

8 / 8

I love _________ the Christmas lights in Dublin.

Your score is


Guarantee: to promise with certainty


Practice makes perfect: this means the more we practice, the closer to perfect we will get.

Example: You should try speaking as much in English as possible. Practice makes perfect!

Bear in mind: think about or consider.

Example: When you are planning to go on holiday to a hot country, bear in mind that you will need light clothes.

Verb Patterns Video

If you liked this post, please head over to our grammar section for some more English grammar tips .

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