Verbs of love and hate: understanding the intricacies of compatibility


After the verbs hate (hate), like (like), love (love) and prefer (prefer) , you can use both a verb with an ending - ing , and an infinitive with to.

I hate to see food being thrown away.

I love going to the cinema.

I prefer listening to the news on radio than watching it on TV.

He prefers not to wear a tie to work.

In American English, infinitive forms are more common than -ing forms . Despite this, there is a slight difference in the use of these forms after the verbs hate, love, like, prefer.

The use of the –ing form emphasizes the emphasis on action, process , experience.
The to infinitive emphasizes the result of an action or event.

Often –ing forms are needed to convey the pleasure (or lack thereof) of the process. The infinitive with to is needed to talk about habits and preferences.


I like making jam.

He likes telling jokes.

They don’t like sitting for too long.

Emphasis on process

We have a lot of fruit in the garden. I like tomakejameveryyear.

I prefer to sort out a problem as soon as I can.

If you prefer not to go camping there are youth hostels nearby.

habit or preference

After hate and love , it is much more common to see the –ing form of the verb.

I hate decorating. I’d rather pay a professional to do it.

Would + hate, like, love, prefer

When using would or 'd with the verbs hate, like, love, prefer, we can then use ONLY the infinitive and not the -ing form:

We would love to hear you sing.
Not: We would love hearing you sing.

They’d hate to cause a problem.
Not: They’d hate causing a problem.

I’d prefer not to give you my name.
Not: I’d prefer not giving you my name.