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  1. #1
    on the way is offline Member
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    What's the difference between "way of doing sth." and "way to do sth."?

    Are these two expressions interchangeable? If not, what's the difference between these two forms? Any reply would be appreciated.
    Last edited by teechar; 07-Jun-2017 at 17:49. Reason: added a space after the first question mark

  2. #2
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: What's the difference between "way of doing sth." and "way to do sth."?

    The first describes a habitual approach to doing something. The second is one specific approach.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. #3
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    Re: What's the difference between "way of doing sth." and "way to do sth."?

    I would take "What is your favourite way of eating avocado?" and "What is your favourite way to eat avocado?" to mean the same thing. Either one would elicit a response like "Mashed up on toast with some cream cheese".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. #4
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    Re: What's the difference between "way of doing sth." and "way to do sth."?

    Are these two expressions interchangeable?
    After the possessive, interestingly, they are clearly not interchangeable: his way of eating avocado works; *his way to eat avocado does not. But, astonishingly, adding the adjective favorite (or, for you British speakers, favourite) after his saves the to-version: his favorite way to eat avocado.

  5. #5
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    Re: What's the difference between "way of doing sth." and "way to do sth."?

    The simple but perhaps unhelpful answer is that they are interchangeable in some cases but not in others. There's a subtle difference of use, which is not easy to explain.

    I think post #2 is an interesting analysis but I consider the difference to be really one of focus. With to, the focus is more on the objective of the way whereas with of it's more on the manner of the way.

  6. #6
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    Re: What's the difference between "way of doing sth." and "way to do sth."?

    Another syntactic difference is that an expressed subject can come before the to version (provided the complementizer for is also used) but not before the of version:

    the (best) way for him to proceed

    *the (best) way of him proceeding
    *the (best) way of his proceeding

    one way for him to proceed
    *one way of him proceeding
    *
    one way of his proceeding

  7. #7
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    Re: What's the difference between "way of doing sth." and "way to do sth."?

    That's interesting, Phaedrus. Would you consider the following as admissible?

    the best way for him of proceeding

  8. #8
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    Re: What's the difference between "way of doing sth." and "way to do sth."?

    Would you consider the following as admissible?

    the best way for him of proceeding
    Only if of proceeding is interpreted as postmodifying way, i.e. only if the phrase is a jumbling or stylistic rearrangement of best way of proceeding for him.

    I'm really glad you asked me that, Jutfrank. I think that maybe one essential difference between the of and to versions is that the of version is more . . . hmm . . . appositional. Check this out:

    (a) the best way of eating avocado for him to adopt
    (b) the best way of eating avocado to adopt
    (c)*the best way to eat avocado of adopting

    Those examples show it is possible to have the of version and the to version together, provided the of version precedes the to version. That's the coolest grammatical thing I've noticed all week!

  9. #9
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    Re: What's the difference between "way of doing sth." and "way to do sth."?

    Phaedrus - Thanks for your answer. It's always good to share different ways to understand (or different ways of understanding) subtleties like this. I'm going to think about this a bit more.

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