Verb Forms – upper-intermediate lesson

This is a lesson idea for all teachers who have upper-intermediate/FCE level students or higher. It incorporates verb forms into learning the structures and then practices it verbally in a speaking activity. It’s requires minimal resources and when you create the slips of paper you can reuse them again for future lessons so really efficient.


Students always prefer to practice their speaking skills rather than learn grammar.  The dreaded “G” has a bad rep, but there are some ways we can incorporate the right grammar into speaking.  If done right, it can be a memorable lesson for students, leaving them with the feeling of accomplishment from not only practicing their speaking skills but a bit of useful grammar in the process.

One of the best grammar lessons I use over and over again is verb forms.  That is gerunds and infinitives that follow certain verbs.  It’s easy to review, practice and incredibly beneficial to students because it can help improve their writing and speaking skills when constructing sentences for either task.  Any grammar lesson can be done in a “fun” way whether the students are adults, teenagers or children to make it memorable and well, less grammar-like! 🙂 Let’s get right to it.

Start by putting 5 sentences on the (digital) whiteboard and include a mistake in each that is related to verb forms, try to make the sentences relevant to students.  Like these examples:

  • What do you enjoy to do when you’re not here?

  • What would you like doing this evening?

  • What are you good at to do?

  • What do you hope do after you graduate?

  • What are you looking forward to do this summer?

  • What do you expect doing this weekend?

  • Is there anything your parents/wife don’t let you doing?

These are just examples, so feel free to change it up how you see fit.  Depending on your student’s level you can make harder/easier sentences. Note: The third question has a verb + preposition + gerunds while the last sentence has a verb + object + infinitive.  Both are additional categories that you can cover if you so wish.

Ask students to identify the mistakes and once that’s done ask them to tell you what is the pattern of the type of mistake.  Now that you have identified that verb forms will be the focus of the lesson put on the board three headings: Gerunds, to-infinitives and bare infinitive (without ‘to’)

From here, you put the verbs from your sentences into the appropriate section of the table.  Students of course should copy the table into their notebooks. Then, put these verbs on slips of paper or whichever verbs you want to work on that day. Here is a list of what I use:

Gerunds: Avoid, can’t help, can’t stand, deny, imagine, involve, look forward to, miss, practice, regret, risk, suggest, admit, carry on, fancy, give up, postpone

To-infinitive: agree, can’t afford, happen, manage, pretend, refuse, tend, threaten, want, learn, need, appear, help, plan,

Infinitive without to: had better, let, would rather, must, can, may, rather, should, be able to, might

Both Gerund and Infinitive: Stop, remember, forget, try

You can choose any of these or all.  It works great for upper-intermediate and FCE students but Advanced and Intermediate are also very possible.  Intermediate you might have to limit the number of verbs to the most important and easy to learn.

Put the slips of paper around the room on blue-tac or just place them on a table in the back of the classroom and ask students to put them in the appropriate place on the table.  They must get up and place them on the board.  Ask them to correct any if they see mistakes.  Once they are done go through each word and check with the class while they write them all in their notebooks. Boom!

It’s quite important that you provide example sentences during the review process.

Hold expect up and ask students: I expect to meet/meeting my friends this weekend?

Get the response you want: to meet

I sometimes keep score of how many they get right and wrong just to add another ‘fun’ element to it.  Provide additional examples if necessary just to reinforce the correct verb form. I expect to finish my homework by 8pm tonight.  I expect to be home by 5pm etc.

Once you’ve gone through all the verbs you should have something like this:



Ask students to study their tables for a couple of minutes because now you will be practicing these forms.

When ready pass out this worksheet activity:gerunds-and-infinitives


Students work individually at first by completing the questions with the correct verb form.  Make sure you tell them to write their answers on the right-hand column and not the spaces, super important!  There’s always someone who doesn’t do it.  Once that is done, go through the answers verbally by asking the ‘A’ students for just the answers and then do the same with the ‘B’ students.  Then put them in pairs and ask them to fold the right side of their paper so they can’t see their answers.  From here, students ask their questions to their partner and while doing so try to remember the correct verb form for each question.  Their partner should answer their questions.  They can take turns doing this.  Be extra vigilant at this stage to make sure they are testing themselves by forming their own questions with the correct verb form, not testing their partners by asking for the correct verb form.  Correct students as they practice this.

That’s a wrap peeps.  It’s a 90-minute lesson and maybe more, depending on your teaching speed.  If your students are advanced, there is this worksheet you can also use from Success Advanced Resources:

gerunds-and-infinitives-advacedCut up the slips of paper, giving one to each student in the class and ask them to survey their classmates with their statements.  Afterwards, get feedback by asking students to tell you what they found out from their classmates.  They must use the correct verb form in the feedback!  This exercise has harder verb forms but helps students practice without them realizing it. 😉

This lesson covers a fantastic and extremely useful area of grammar, in a fun and enjoyable lesson while also providing students with an opportunity to practice their speaking skills at the end of it.  The speaking activities are long and provide great vocabulary including some reporting verbs (deny, admit, refuse, suggest, threaten). Give students examples and emphasize the importance of using these instead of the go-to ‘say’ reporting verb all the time.

Enjoy and hope you find it useful fellow peeps.


Nondas Petas (Visit my website: ESL Trailblazer)
I’ve been teaching English as a foreign language for twelve years now and the journey has taken me across the world.  I’ve had the opportunity to meet students of many nationalities, ages, and levels of English.