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    #1

    Exclamation Past Tense + Gerunds

    Hello,

    I got this sentence from movie I watched it last night. The actor said " he started telling people what to do!"

    After a lot of thinking, I found out that is this sentence
    Past tense + gerunds !!!

    why did not he say, " he started tell people what to do "!!

    is there any grammar rule for this situation?

    Thank you

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Past Tense + Gerunds

    Quote Originally Posted by binsadan View Post
    Hello,

    I got this sentence from movie I watched it last night. The actor said "He started telling people what to do!"

    After a lot of thinking, I found out that
    is this sentence is
    Past tense + gerunds !!!

    Why did
    not he not say, "He started to tell people what to do"?

    Is there any grammar rule for this situation?

    Thank you
    Very simply, with "to start to do something" we either use the gerund or the full infinitive (not the bare infinitive).

    In most cases, it doesn't matter which one is used.

    I started swimming.
    I started to swim.

    He started singing.
    He started to sing.

    They started buying groceries at a different supermarket.
    They started to buy groceries at a different supermarket.

    However, as always, context is everything. If those sentences above were followed by a period of time, the meaning might change. For example:

    I started swimming when I was seven years old = I learnt how to swim when I was seven years old.
    I started to swim when I was seven years old = I have been swimming constantly since I was seven years old.

    He started singing last year = He decided to take up singing as a hobby or to have lessons last year.
    He started to sing last year = He has been singing constantly since last year (and would have a very sore throat by now!)

    Can you see the difference between the following?

    I started playing tennis ten years ago.
    I started to play tennis 15 minutes ago.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Past Tense + Gerunds

    Quote Originally Posted by binsadan View Post
    Hello,

    I got this sentence from movie I watched it last night. The actor said " he started telling people what to do!"

    After a lot of thinking, I found out that is this sentence
    Past tense + gerunds !!!

    why did not he say, " he started tell people what to do "!!

    is there any grammar rule for this situation?

    Thank you
    emsr2d2 has assumed you meant to write "he started to tell". Maybe you did - in which case it's a common problem, and she has adequately answered it.

    If you are seriously having a problem with the present participle/gerund in the past tense, you need to know that you can use this in any tense.

    "He is telling us; He was telling us; He will be telling us; He would be/could be ... telling us";
    "He starts telling us; He started telling us; He will start telling us" etc. are all possible.
    You can use this construction in any tense.

    "He started thinking of trying to tell us" ...
    "He had been starting to think of trying to tell us." - Unlikely, but quite correct.

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    #4

    Re: Past Tense + Gerunds

    Quote Originally Posted by binsadan View Post
    Hello,

    I got this sentence from movie I watched it last night. The actor said " he started telling people what to do!"

    After a lot of thinking, I found out that is this sentence
    Past tense + gerunds !!!

    why did not he say, " he started tell people what to do "!!

    is there any grammar rule for this situation?

    Thank you
    As other contributors have pointed out, both [start Ving] and [start to V] are possible. Note that, while generally interchangeable, the latter will be preferred/required

    (1) when the action commenced but did not, in some sense, 'finish', e.g.

    He started to speak, but was interrupted by a sudden noise.

    (more natural than '...started speaking...')

    (2) when the verb 'start' itself occurs in the -ing form, e.g.

    I was really starting to enjoy myself.

    (not: *...starting enjoying...)

    N.B. The same applies to the verb 'begin'.

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