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  1. #1
    beachboy is offline Key Member
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    Gerund and infinitive

    There is a song called "To know her is to love her". I've learned that it's right to start sentences like this with the gerund. Is the sentence right? Any difference between this sentence and "Knowing her is loving her"?

  2. #2
    teechar's Avatar
    teechar is offline Moderator
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    Re: Gerund and infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by beachboy View Post
    To know her is to love her.
    That's fine.
    -----------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by beachboy View Post
    Knowing her is loving her.
    That doesn't work.

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    beachboy is offline Key Member
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    Re: Gerund and infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    That's fine.
    -----------------------------------------

    That doesn't work.
    What's the rule, when it comes to starting a sentence with the infinitive or the gerund? Would it be wrong to say "Knowing you is a pleasure"? Can you come up with two other exemples in which you'd start the sentence with the infinitive, but not the gerund?

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    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: Gerund and infinitive

    I tend to disagree with teechar on this point - mainly in emphasis. "Knowing her is loving her" sounds acceptable if the context is known - at least the construction is. It obviously doesn't fit the music. "To know her is to love her" makes sense in a stand alone sentence; it's clearer.

    The song:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eew_zolVlNI

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    beachboy is offline Key Member
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    Re: Gerund and infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I tend to disagree with teechar on this point - mainly in emphasis. "Knowing her is loving her" sounds acceptable if the context is known - at least the construction is. It obviously doesn't fit the music. "To know her is to love her" makes sense in a stand alone sentence; it's clearer.

    The song:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eew_zolVlNI
    So in what context would "Knowing her is loving her" be acceptable, and how would it differ from "To know her is to love her"?

  6. #6
    Skrej's Avatar
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    Re: Gerund and infinitive

    Both a gerund and an infinitive can be used as a subject. We tend to use the gerund, as it sounds a bit more natural,but the infinitive is also acceptable. The infinitive often sounds a little more abstract, and tends to emphasize the possibility or potential for something, and thus sometimes sounds a bit more philosophical or poetic.

    That's about as close to a 'rule' as you'll get, although it's more of a guideline than an absolute rule.

    I agree with Raymott that the gerund works as well here. However, if you consider the above guideline, the infinitive seems to work a little better for the song.

    Edit: Here's a song where a gerund starts the sentence. The gerund works better here due to the rhythm and meter of the song.
    Last edited by Skrej; 06-Jul-2017 at 19:27. Reason: added song
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  7. #7
    beachboy is offline Key Member
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    Re: Gerund and infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrej View Post
    Edit: Here's a song where a gerund starts the sentence. The gerund works better here due to the rhythm and meter of the song.

    It's a classic! In the same way, would "To love you is easy 'cause you're beautiful" work here?
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 06-Jul-2017 at 22:03. Reason: Pruning quote.

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    Re: Gerund and infinitive

    No, in my opinion.

  9. #9
    bonkiteng's Avatar
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    Re: Gerund and infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    No, in my opinion.
    This gerund-and-infinitive question has bothered me, too. Thanks for all the great explanations.

    I don't get why "To love you is easy, cause you're beautiful." is wrong. I know it doesn't fit the music/rhyme using "to love" in this song.
    But, is it grammatically correct? According to Skrej in the 6th comment, doesn't "to love" give a more abstract feeling thus more poetic, but still correct? After reading all the comments above, I feel both "to love you is easy" and "loving you is easy" are understandable.

  10. #10
    beachboy is offline Key Member
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    Re: Gerund and infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by bonkiteng View Post
    This gerund-and-infinitive question has bothered me, too. Thanks for all the great explanations.

    I don't get why "To love you is easy, cause you're beautiful." is wrong. I know it doesn't fit the music/rhyme using "to love" in this song.
    But, is it grammatically correct? According to Skrej in the 6th comment, doesn't "to love" give a more abstract feeling thus more poetic, but still correct? After reading all the comments above, I feel both "to love you is easy" and "loving you is easy" are understandable.
    I agrre, bonkiteng. It will be difficult to choose one when I have to come up with a sentence on my own.

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