What are VERB PATTERNS?

What are VERB PATTERNS?

What are verb patterns in English?

Verb patterns refer to the way we use certain verbs with other verbs in a sentence in English. It’s important to understand verb patterns in order to sound natural in English, but the wrong verb pattern can also affect the meaning of a sentence.

Some verbs are followed by the ‘to’ infinitive, such as ‘manage to do’ or ‘arrange to do’. However, some other verbs are followed by a gerund, which is the ‘ing’ form of a verb, such as ‘keep doing’ or ‘avoid doing’.

There are also verbs that take both the ‘to’ infinitive and the gerund, which often changes the meaning. Let’s look at some examples of verb patterns together to help us understand them better.

What’s the difference between REMEMBER TO DO and REMEMBER DOING? Let’s try an example sentence to see how we use them: You could say: REMEMBER TO DO your homework or REMEMBER DOING your homework. But what’s the difference? What do they mean?

REMEMBER TO DO or REMEMBER DOING? Learn English with Dan

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Well, the first one, REMEMBER TO DO your homework, means you don’t forget. If you don’t REMEMBER TO DO your homework, your teacher will be very angry with you and maybe give you extra homework as punishment! You don’t want that, right? Nobody wants extra homework! So, always REMEMBER TO DO your homework!

Another way to say this is DON’T FORGET TO DO your homework. So, REMEMBER TO DO means DON’T FORGET to do.

REMEMBER DOING your homework, means you have some memory of the action. It happened in the past and you have a memory of that action. You could tell someone where you were, what time it was, how long it took, who you were with, because you have a memory of this event. So, you could say: I REMEMBER DOING my homework! I can describe the action from my memory.

You can use FORGET in the same way. If you FORGET TO DO your homework, it means you don’t remember and your teacher will be angry with you.

If you FORGET DOING your homework, it means you did it in the past but you have no memory of the event. Maybe you were very tired when you did it!

So what’s the difference between TRY TO DO and TRY DOING? Let’s look at an example sentence to see how we use them: You could say: TRY TO SPEAK English or TRY SPEAKING English. But what’s the difference? What do they mean?

TRY TO DO or TRY DOING? Learn English with Dan

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Firstly, you could say: I will TRY TO SPEAK English every day. This means to make an effort, to work harder. Maybe you have an exam soon and you want to get a good grade, so you need to study harder, you need to make an effort. Maybe you’re too busy or even a bit lazy and you should practise more. So, you say: I will TRY TO SPEAK English every day.

However, you could also say: I will TRY SPEAKING English every day. This sounds more like you want to see if this is useful or fun. I will TRY SPEAKING English every day. You’re trying something new to see if it’s a good idea or if it’s something you like.

Here’s a different example: I will TRY SPEAKING English so they can understand. Again, you’re trying something new to see if it is useful or helpful. Maybe you’re talking to someone who doesn’t speak your language, so you decide to use English to see if they understand you better. I will TRY SPEAKING English so they can understand.

The difference between LIKE DOING and LIKE TO DO often causes students lots of problems because the meaning changes between the two, but it’s not always obvious what the difference is. Don’t worry, in this lesson I’ll make it very clear for you. Let’s look at some examples to help us understand better.

LIKE DOING or LIKE TO DO? Learn English with Dan

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Firstly, you could say: I LIKE PLAYING football, I LIKE WATCHING movies.  I LIKE EATING pizza, I LIKE DRINKING wine, I LIKE SPENDING time with friends, I LIKE GOING to the beach.

What do these examples sound like? That’s right. They’re all examples of things you enjoy. So if you want to talk about something you enjoy, something that is nice to do, use LIKE followed by a gerund, which is the ING form of the verb. You could change the verb and still express how much you like or dislike something: I LOVE EATING pizza, I DISLIKE EATING pizza, I HATE EATING pizza, I DETEST EATING pizza.

How about these examples: I LIKE TO GO to bed early, I LIKE TO VISIT the dentist twice a year, I LIKE TO EAT vegetables every day, I LIKE TO DRINK lots of water, I LIKE TO DO my homework as soon as I get home. What do these examples sound like? Look at the context. Do they sound like things you enjoy? Not really, right? Visiting the dentist or doing homework are not normally things we enjoy.

So, when we use LIKE followed by the full infinitive, which means the verb with TO, this means that I think it is a good idea. I LIKE TO VISIT the dentist twice a year. I don’t enjoy it, but I think it’s a good idea. I LIKE TO DO my homework as soon as I get home. I don’t enjoy it, but I think it’s a good idea.

So, LIKE plus the gerund means you enjoy it, LIKE plus the full infinitive means you think it’s a good idea, easy! Now watch this video to learn a bit more about LIKE DOING and LIKE TO DO.

Do you LIKE PRACTISING English? Or maybe you LIKE TO PRACTISE English. Tell us in the comments below!

How do you describe the things you might do in the future? Well, a very simple way to talk about your future is to say: I’M THINKING OF, I’M THINKING OF.

I’m THINKING OF doING it Learn English with Dan

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So, to make this verb pattern, use the verb THINK in the continuous form, which is BE plus the verb with ING followed by the preposition OF. I’M THINKING OF. So you haven’t decided yet, you’re still making your plan. We say: I’M THINKING because this is not a complete action. You haven’t finished deciding. You are still THINKING.

Then, because OF is a preposition, the verb that comes after must be a gerund, which means the ING form, in this case DOING. So, for example: I’M THINKING OF DOING IT, I’M THINKING OF DOING IT. So, don’t say: I’m thinking of do it, or I’m thinking to do it. Say: I’M THINKING OF DOING IT.

Let’s try some examples: You could say: I’M THINKING OF GOING out tonight, or I’M THINKING OF TAKING the day off, or I’M THINKING OF CHANGING my job, or I’M THINKING OF HAVING a party.

Tell us what you ARE THINKING OF DOING in the comments below. It’s good to practise!

Which verb patterns use IT?

Some verb patterns need to use ‘it’ when they are followed by ‘when’ or ‘if’. Also, some verb patterns use ‘it’ when they talk about someone’s experience.

LIKE IT WHEN is a simple sentence to use but a very common error. Let’s look at an example sentence. You could say: “I LIKE IT WHEN you cook me dinner” or “I LOVE IT WHEN you kiss me goodnight”. Notice that we need to use the pronoun ‘IT’ between the verb and ‘WHEN’. So, this means it’s wrong to say: “I LIKE WHEN” or “I LOVE WHEN”. You need to add ‘IT’ between the verb and ‘WHEN’, otherwise it won’t sound natural.

I like IT WHEN… Learn English with Dan

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So practise saying that: “I LIKE IT WHEN”, “I LOVE IT WHEN”, “I DISLIKE IT WHEN”, “I HATE IT WHEN”. Repeat it a few times to get the sound and the rhythm of the phrase. “I LIKE IT WHEN”, “I LOVE IT WHEN”, “I DISLIKE IT WHEN”, “I HATE IT WHEN”. “I DISLIKE IT WHEN you arrive late”, “I HATE IT WHEN you get angry with me”.

As you can see, these are verbs that express feelings, how we feel. Can you think of other verbs to use when describing your feelings? Here are some more examples:

“I ADORE IT WHEN” – that means I really, really love it. “I DETEST IT WHEN” – that means I really, really hate it. “I ADORE IT WHEN you buy me flowers”, “I DETEST IT WHEN you make a mess”.

“I Like It When You’re Gone” by Tom Rosenthal

“I Like It When You Love Me” by Oh Wonder

“(I Like It When You) Smile” by Harry Connick, Jr.

You probably know how to use the verb FIND when you’re looking for something lost, but this is a different way of using this verb. This is a very common and useful phrase to learn. In this verb pattern, we use the verb ‘FIND’ followed by the pronoun ‘IT’ and then an adjective to describe the experience. Here are some example sentences to show you how we use it.

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I FIND IT EASY to speak English. I FIND IT EASY to speak English. So this is the verb FIND plus the pronoun IT followed by an adjective, in this case EASY, but you can think of any other adjective to change the meaning. I FIND IT EASY. I FIND IT EASY. I FIND IT EASY to speak English. So this just means that the experience of speaking English feels easy to me. I FIND IT EASY.

Let’s change the adjective to change how we feel about the experience. I FIND IT HARD. I FIND IT HARD to speak English. Maybe you feel more like this. I FIND IT HARD to speak English. Or use a different adjective with the same meaning. I FIND IT DIFFICULT to speak English.

You can describe anything you want. Just choose the right adjective. I FIND IT BORING to do homework, I FIND IT EXCITING to go travelling, I FIND IT SHOCKING to read the news, I FIND IT TERRIFYING to watch horror movies, I FIND IT INTERESTING to learn about history, I FIND IT USEFUL to speak English. You can also use it in the past. When I was a child, I FOUND IT HARD to learn English, but now I FIND IT EASY!

“I Find it Hard to Say (Rebel)” by Lauryn Hill

Which verb patterns use THAT?

Some verbs, for example ‘suggest’ or ‘recommend’, are followed by ‘that’, so you need to learn this verb pattern as well.

The verb SUGGEST tends to cause problems because it has a specific verb pattern. So when we use SUGGEST, we say: I SUGGEST THAT… followed by the rest of the phrase. Here are some examples.

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I SUGGEST THAT you practise your English. I SUGGEST THAT you do your homework on time. I SUGGEST THAT you study harder. I SUGGEST THAT you listen to English every day. After SUGGEST use THAT followed by the rest of the sentence.

It’s also quite common to drop or leave out THAT if we’re speaking quickly or informally. So you can say: I SUGGEST you study harder. I SUGGEST you study harder.

However, we don’t say: I SUGGEST YOU to study harder. Don’t use the full infinitive here. “I SUGGEST THAT you study harder” or “I SUGGEST you study harder. You could also say: I SUGGEST STUDYING harder, so SUGGEST plus a gerund. That’s possible. So, “I SUGGEST THAT you study harder”, “I SUGGEST you study harder” or “I SUGGEST STUDYING harder”.

Here’s a different verb you could use. Instead of SUGGEST, you could use RECOMMEND. “I RECOMMEND THAT you study harder” or “I RECOMMEND you study harder” or “I RECOMMEND STUDYING harder”. But remember, don’t say: I RECOMMEND you to study harder.

OK, I SUGGEST THAT you read and listen again if that’s not clear. Also, I RECOMMEND WRITING your own example sentences in the comments!

What is the verb pattern for AFFORD in English?

The reason we’re going to focus on AFFORD is because it has a particular verb pattern so we can use it correctly. Let’s look at an example to see what we mean. You could say: I CAN’T AFFORD to go out tonight, I CAN’T AFFORD to go out tonight. In this example, we’re expressing an ability (or lack of ability, in this case) to do something because of cost. This suggests that I don’t have enough money, so I am not able to do this thing, go out tonight.

I CAN'T AFFORD it Learn English with Dan

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So to use the verb AFFORD, we have to use the modal verb CAN before it. The verb AFFORD doesn’t make sense on its own. You can’t say: I afford it. You have to say: I CAN AFFORD it, or I CAN’T AFFORD it.

Here are some more examples: I CAN AFFORD to travel by bus, but I CAN’T AFFORD to travel by taxi. I CAN AFFORD to buy a sandwich, but I CAN’T AFFORD to buy a meal. I CAN AFFORD to live in a flat, but I CAN’T AFFORD to live in a house.

Why don’t you write some example sentences in the comments below? You CAN’T AFFORD not to practise your English, right? Tell us about the other things you CAN AFFORD and CAN’T AFFORD.

So, as you can see, there are several different types of verb patterns in English and you need to understand them to sound natural, but also to be much clearer with what you want to say. Try to notice these different verb patterns when you’re reading and listening to English.

Finally, take the free course VERB PATTERNS in English to help you check what you know. If you want to learn even more, you can go to ANGLOPOD+ to watch all the video lessons as well. Good luck and feel free to ask a question in the comments below!

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What are verb patterns in English?

Verb patterns refer to the form of the words that follow certain verbs, such as TRY TO DO or TRY DOING. It’s important to understand verb patterns in order to sound natural in English. Also, the wrong verb pattern can affect the meaning of a sentence.

What are examples of verb patterns?

Verb patterns mean that some verbs are followed by the ‘to’ infinitive, such as MANAGE TO DO or ARRANGE TO DO, but some other verbs are followed by a gerund, which is the ‘ing’ form of a verb, such as KEEP DOING or AVOID DOING.

What is the difference between REMEMBER TO DO and REMEMBER DOING in English?

If you say REMEMBER TO DO in English it means you don’t forget to do something, but if you say REMEMBER DOING it means you have a memory of this action or event.

What is the difference between TRY TO DO and TRY DOING in English?

If you TRY TO DO something it means you make an effort to see if something is possible, but if you TRY DOING something it means you are doing something new to see if it’s useful or fun.

What is the difference between LIKE DOING and LIKE TO DO in English?

If you say you LIKE DOING something it means you enjoy it, but if you say you LIKE TO DO something it means you think it is a good idea.

How do we use the verb pattern I’M THINKING OF in English?

After the phrase I’M THINKING OF we use the verb in the gerund form, so for example ‘I’m thinking of leaving’ or ‘I’m thinking of staying’. This is a great verb pattern to talk about your future plans and intentions.

How do we use the verb SUGGEST in English?

We can say ‘I suggest THAT YOU DO it’ but we can also say ‘I suggest YOU DO it’, so dropping ‘that’. Another way is to say ‘I suggest DOING it’. But DON’T say ‘I suggest YOU TO DO it’, ‘I suggest TO DO it’ or ‘I suggest DO it’. They all just sound wrong!

How do we use the verb AFFORD in English?

When you use the verb AFFORD in English you need to use the modal verb CAN with it. So, you say I CAN AFFORD TO DO THAT, but you don’t say I AFFORD TO DO THAT.

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