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  1. #1
    mehdihas is offline Junior Member
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    Default gerund/infinitive

    Hi everyone,
    If we use either a gerund or an infinitive at the beginning of a sentence, is there a difference in meaning and usage? For example what are the differences in the following sentences:
    1) a. Helping others makes you feel good.
    b. To help others makes you feel good.
    Or:
    2) a. Smoking is bad for you.
    b. To smoke is bad for you.

  2. #2
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: gerund/infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by mehdihas View Post
    Hi everyone,
    If we use either a gerund or an infinitive at the beginning of a sentence, is there a difference in meaning and usage? For example what are the differences in the following sentences:
    1) a. Helping others makes you feel good.
    b. To help others makes you feel good.
    Or:
    2) a. Smoking is bad for you.
    b. To smoke is bad for you.
    We are talking about the subject of those sentences, so the gerund is correct because gerunds are nouns.

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: gerund/infinitive

    The forms with an infinitive are not incorrect, but certainly sound formal and old-fashioned.

  4. #4
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: gerund/infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    The forms with an infinitive are not incorrect, but certainly sound formal and old-fashioned.
    I wouldn't have described the infinitives as "formal" and "old-fashioned", but your opinion/experience is as valid as mine.
    To me, the infinitives are sufficiently inferior to the gerunds to make incorrect. Anyway, we seem to agree that the gerunds are preferable.

    [/QUOTE]
    2006

  5. #5
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: gerund/infinitive

    How do you feel about something like "To sell my novel is my biggest dream."
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: gerund/infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    How do you feel about something like "To sell my novel is my biggest dream."
    It certainly sounds better than "To smoke is bad for you." (Maybe that's because selling the novel is a one-time action.) In fact, it sounds at least as good as 'Selling my novel....

    What do you think?

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: gerund/infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    How do you feel about something like "To sell my novel is my biggest dream."
    That's fine.

    Whilst I can't agree with 2006's idea that the infinitive is 'inferior', I think he may be right about the one-time action.

    I think there may also be something in the idea that, in general. infinitives tend to point to a future situation, gerunds do not:

    I want/hope/expect/etc to travel to America.
    I enjoy/remember/dread/ etc travelling
    .

    To sell my novel is my biggest dream.
    Selling a book is not the same as selling a car.

  8. #8
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: gerund/infinitive

    That one-time idea makes sense.

    To open an ice cream parlor would be a lot of work but a lot of fun. -- Sounds fine.
    To run an ice cream parlor is a lot of work. -- Does not sound as good as Running an ice cream parlor...
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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