Infinitive vs present participle on GMAT
Description: In this brief video we will cover the usage of the infinitive verb form (“to + base form of verb”) and the present participle (“verb+ing”) verb form on the GMAT, particularly the subtle contrast in their usages.
Infinitive versus Present Participle on GMAT
The infinitive verb form is the “to + base form of verb” construction, for example “to + study”, and the present participle verb form is the “verb+ing” construction, for example “studying”. Generally, both forms can work in sentences, but there is a key difference between the two. In this brief article, we will cover the how the usages of the infinitive verb form and present participle differ on the GMAT.
The key difference between the two verb forms is that the present participle is generally preferred for showing the quality of a noun, and the infinitive verb form is generally preferred for showing an intent of action. To understand this concept, please take a look at the following examples.
Example 1 -Chess is great sport for enhancing mental alacrity.
Example 2 -Chess is a great sport to enhance mental alacrity.
Out of these two sentences, one is superior to the other. Please try to identify which one it is.
Here, a quality of a noun is involved; the purpose of these sentences is to convey that “Chess” has the quality that it can enhance mental alacrity. Thus, the present participle construction, the “verb+ing” construction, is superior.
Here is another set of examples; please pause the video and try to identify which of these two is superior.
Example 3 – Jack plays chess regularly to enhance his mental alacrity.
Example 4 – Jack plays chess regularly for enhancing his mental alacrity.
Here, intent of action is involved; the purpose of these sentences is to convey that “Jack” takes the action of playing chess with the intention of enhancing his mental alacrity. Thus, the infinitive verb form, the “to + base form of verb” construction, is superior.
To sum up this concept, when a quality of a noun is discussed, present participle is preferred, and when an intent of action is discussed, the infinitive verb form is preferred. Further, please remember, in a high proportion of cases, both of these verb forms can work. So, if the distinction between quality of a noun versus intent of action is not very clear in a sentence, the verb form is not a deal breaker, and you must look at other differences to eliminate incorrect answer choices.
This article has deliberately been kept brief; for a more elaborate explanation, please refer to the Experts’ Global Stage One Sentence Correction videos.