I guess it would be correct for me to write this sentence: "The new system would encourage students to read."
However, can I write "The new system would encourage students reading."?
I have looked up the word "encourage" in several dictionaries and all suggested the usage with to-infinitive, but there was one online dictionary bracketed that "verb + ing" can also be used.
I'm a little bit confused and hope someone here can help.
Thanks a lot.
The only instance I can think of where encourage could be followed by a Verb+-ing is where encourage has the meaning of foster, advance, promote and is followed by the gerund. Here is an example taken from the web. It is in an article talking about activities to foster language development in babies:
Choose books that are sturdy and have large colorful pictures that are not too detailed. Ask your child, "What's this?" and encourage naming and pointing to familiar objects in the book.
So, to answer your question ("However, can I write: The new system would encourage students reading?"), I would say no because what you want to say with the verb encourage suggests one of its other meanings: trying to persuade someone to do something by making it easier for them to do it*. And this would necessarily call for the to+infinitive structure.
*Collins Cobuild English Dictionary.