Hi, there.
I am interested in English Grammar.Today I would like to know about gerunds and to-infinitives.

I learned that the gerund has the nuance of past; on the contrary, the to-infinitive has that of future.

Obviously we can see these differences;

I forget to clean my room, and I go back.
I forget cleaning my room, so I did not lock the door.

I learned that the following sentenses have almost the same meaning.

I like reading books.
I like to read books.

It began to rain.
It began rainig.

Although these forms are different, why is it interpretted as the same meaning? I really wonder about it.

From the view of the speaker of English, how do you use them respectively?

And also, why does the gerund have the sense of past tense?

I know why To-infinitive has future tense. "To" itself has such a nuance, right?

Moreover, there are Verbs that are used with only the Gerund or to-infinitive:

enjoy+Gerund only
finish+Gerund only
avoid+Gerund only

afford +to-infinitive only
decline+to-infinitive only

How are these usages born?

I'd like to know about them...And if there are some recommended books concerned with this, I want to know it.

That is my question.

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Original Post
There is a very good discussion on this issue entitled "Choice between the infinitive and participle construction" in Quirk et al* pp. 1191-1193.

* A comprehensive grammar of the English language
Thanks to Promegax. He and the Grammar Exchange have consulted the same reference.

Your question is a big one. Most teachers of English and authors of important texts on teaching English don't give reasons for the choice of using the gerund or infinitive form; they merely describe its existence, and help the student get accustomed to the use of one or the other.

However, as you mention, the gerund form tends to refer to something current or past, while the infinitive form tends to refer to something potential, in the future. This is a historical distinction, but is not particularly useful in deciding which form to use.

The "to" in the infinitive, according to the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language*, "derives historically from the preposition ˜to'..and..is characteristically associated with a goal." This reference discusses the topic beginning on page 1240. It also classifies the various types of verbs that are followed by a gerund, an infinitive, or either.

Another reference that has a lot of information on the topic of gerund vs. infinitive, and particularly on classifying the verbs with which each is used, is A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language** in section 16.40.

Rachel
_______
*The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by Huddleston and Pullum. Cambridge University Press. 2002
**A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language by Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech and Svartvik. Longman. 1985

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