Results 1 to 5 of 5
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea

    • Join Date: Sep 2006
    • Posts: 575
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    gerund/infinitive

    I wonder if there is any difference between "1" and "2".

    1. His habit is to bite his nails.
    2. His habit is biting his nails.

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Oct 2008
    • Posts: 1,211
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    Re: gerund/infinitive

    I would suggest that the second sentence is either wrong, or at least misleading. His habit is the subject, is biting is the verb. But really, is his habit biting, or is he biting? It is his habit to bite his nails. He bites, his habit does not bite. Habits do not do anything; they cause you to do something.

    I believe that using the infinitive here helps to make that rather narrow distinction. Otherwise, when you use the -ing word, it is confused with the present participle (is running, is biting), rather than the noun (gerund) that you intend.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 17,555
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #3

    Re: gerund/infinitive

    His habit - subject
    is - verb
    biting his nails - gerund, serving as a noun, acting as the predicate nominative.

    The verb isn't "is biting" but simply "is."

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Oct 2008
    • Posts: 1,211
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #4

    Re: gerund/infinitive

    That was my point, Barb - I agree with you. But the construction can be interpretted my way:
    His habit - subject
    is biting - verb
    his nails - object
    ... and that's why I object to it. Unclear. Habits don't bite.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 17,555
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #5

    Re: gerund/infinitive

    Okay - but while it can be momentarily ambiguous, I can't agree that it's wrong.

    I don't find either of the originals particularly natural. He has a bad habit: biting his nails. He has the bad habit of biting his nails. He bites his nails. What a bad habit!

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] be/get used to + gerund/infinitive
    By elio in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 13-May-2009, 23:54
  2. gerund/infinitive
    By muaz in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 20-Jun-2006, 22:38

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •