The Use Of Verbs of Preference In English

In our everyday life we ​​express, consciously or unconsciously, preferences, likes and dislikes about things, people or activities that are performed on a daily basis. Such verbs are called verbs of preference ( verb for preferences , in English). They indicate something we like or dislike. They are simply a fact based on your personal taste. For example, a style of music or a type of food that we like more than another.

The most used are: to hate (hate), to like (pleasure), to love (love) and to prefer (prefer).

They are followed by a verb using the -ing form or by an infinitive verb (with to).


love going to the cinema.
I love going to the cinema.

hate to see you cry.
I hate to see you cry.

In American English, the forms with infinity are much more common than the -ing form.

There is a very small difference in meaning between the two forms.

Form in -ing

The in-ing form emphasizes action or experience in general, in a broad sense. It is also used to suggest pleasure (or lack of it).

hate studying history.
I hate studying history.

like eating pizza.
I like eating pizza.


Form with infinity

The infinitive con to gives more prominence to the results of the action or to refer to a specific event. It is also used to express habits or preferences.

like to make cake every Sunday.
I like to make cake every Sunday.

prefer to go to bed early.
I prefer to go to bed early.

Would + hate, like, love, prefer

In the sentences with would (or the short form ‘d) followed by hate, like, love, prefer the verb in the infinitive is used and not the -ing form.

We would like to hear some music.
We would like to hear some music.

I would prefer not put my name on the list.
I’d rather not put my name on the list.


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