Two Verbs Together

1. Putting two verbs side by side

Sometimes you need to put two verbs next to each other.
This is most common when the first verb is ‘like’, ‘have’, ‘need’, ‘want’, or ‘start’ (or similar verbs, such as ‘love’, ‘hate’, ‘begin’, etc.).

verb 1verb 2example sentence
likedanceI like dancing.
havegoWe have to go to the meeting.
needcleanThe table needs cleaning.
wantswimShe wants to swim.

Putting verbs next to each other can happen in two different ways:

  • (verb 1) + to (verb 2)
  • (verb 1) + (verb 2) ing

2. (Verb 1) + to (verb 2)

The most common way to put verbs next to each other is:

  • (verb 1) + to (verb 2)

This simply means that the second verb is in the infinitive form (i.e. uses ‘to’).

3. Examples of (verb 1) + infinitive

I like to go swimming.Julius and I prefer to watch the football at the pub.
She doesn’t want to go to school tomorrow.You have to do your homework before 9 o’clock.
Lex and Tim need to find Dr. Grant.The boys need to pay their tuition.

4. (Verb 1) + (verb 2) ing

After some verbs, the second verb can use …ing.
In this case, the verb is acting like a noun.

This type of noun-style verb is called a gerund.

5. Examples of (verb 1) + gerund

I like dancing.We started walking at 6am.
You should stop smoking.The staff will finish working late tonight.
They hate playing computer games.Denise prefers reading to watching TV.

6. When to use infinitives and when to use gerunds

Some verb 1s can be followed by infinitives or gerunds:

loveI love to sing.I love singing.
likeShe likes to eat.She likes eating.
hateThey hate to speak on the phone.They hate speaking on the phone.
preferWe prefer to win rather than to lose.We prefer winning rather than losing.
startYou started to snore.You started snoring.
continuePlease continue to talk.Please continue talking.

Some verbs can only be followed by gerunds.

I enjoy playing basketball.
She detests sitting in coffee shops.
We considered going to the zoo.
Why are you avoiding having a shower?
What time will you finish jogging?
Annie suggests listening to your father.
put off
She put off revising until the night before the exam.
I practice playing the violin every evening.
I don’t mind waiting for you.
Henry misses having a swimming pool.
feel like
I feel like getting drunk.
forgive We forgave you crashing the car, but this is too much.

Other verbs generally use the infinitive, including the common verbs want, need, and have.

wantI want to sleep now.
needYou need to stop listening to her.
haveThey have to buy a new TV.