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      • Native Language:
      • Portuguese
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      • Tuvalu
      • Current Location:
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    • Join Date: Oct 2007
    • Posts: 1,860
    #1

    to be or not to be

    hi,

    this is a very famous sentence but i wonder if it is grammatically correct.

    could i say "being or not being"?

    isn't that true that when we start a sentence with a verb we must put it in the gerund form?

    thanks

  1. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552
    #2

    Re: to be or not to be

    Quote Originally Posted by jctgf View Post
    isn't that true that when we start a sentence with a verb we must put it in the gerund form?
    No. But don't worry: to err is human.

    A "gerund" is actually a verb that has transformed itself into a noun. Shopping is fun, for example. (We can also say: I like to do the shopping -- notice the "the" in that sentence, because "shopping" is like a noun.)

    But we can have an infinitive with "to" at the beginning of a sentence.

    Often it makes no difference to the meaning, although the gerund usually sounds more natural. To shop can be fun.

    "To be or not to be" can be translated as: "Should I [continue to] exist or not?"

    "Being or not being" doesn't quite have the same sense of "should I...?" It's a very subtle change, and one you should not be worried about. Just know that "To be or not to be" is grammatically acceptable, although it is not a sentence in the strict sense because it has no finite verb (only two infinitives acting as sort of honorary nouns).

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