[Grammar] Gerund and infinitive

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beachboy

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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"?
 

beachboy

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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?
 

Raymott

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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
 

beachboy

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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"?
 

Skrej

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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.
 
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beachboy

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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?
 
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Raymott

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No, in my opinion.
 

bonkiteng

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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.
 

beachboy

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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.
 

beachboy

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andrewg927

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I agree with Piscean that the sentence itself is not wrong and since Raymott didn't state his reasoning, I'm not sure what he meant.
 

andrewg927

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He didn't state why it didn't work for him.
 

andrewg927

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My apologies, I didn't know you were his spokesperson.
 

Rover_KE

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He didn't state why it didn't work for him.
It doesn't do to get too confrontational here, Andrew. Aren't there occasions when you say something doesn't sound quite right to you without being able to immediately put your finger on the reason why - even though it contributes positively to the discussion?

Raymott won't be the only one making sure you give a reason for every opinion you express in future replies.
 

andrewg927

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It started out as beachboy saying that he/she was confused by conflicting accounts of what works and what doesn't. I just pointed out in post 13 that I'm not completely sure why Raymott felt it didn't work for him. I never meant to pressure him to produce a reason but I wanted to let the student know that it's not black or white.
 

bonkiteng

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I think I'm seeing the big picture that there isn't one concrete rule after reading all the great comments trying to help. I found that infinitives gives an abstract and poetic feeling easy and seems so reasonable to grasp.
Nevertheless, excuse me for making it even messier. When I was reading, I came up with another question..
Is there ever an example using both infinitives and gerund in a sentence, for instance, to see is believing or seeing is to believe?
In the past, my teacher taught me that one could use "seeing is believing" or "to see is to believe", but never did he tell me if "seeing is to believe" works. Any comments are appreciated!
 

Raymott

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Sorry, Raymott. I tried.
You did as well as I could have. If andrew was so concerned, he could have asked me. When someone merely states in a conversation with someone else that they can't understand me, sometimes I just accept it.
 

andrewg927

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Well, PS rushed to your defense (which is bewildering in itself) even though I didn't ask for it. Like I stated before, my statement wasn't to pressure you (much less anyone else) to produce a reason. It was meant to say the matter isn't black and white.
 

Skrej

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When I was reading, I came up with another question..
Is there ever an example using both infinitives and gerund in a sentence, for instance, to see is believing or seeing is to believe?
In the past, my teacher taught me that one could use "seeing is believing" or "to see is to believe", but never did he tell me if "seeing is to believe" works. Any comments are appreciated!

I can't say there would never be a context where it wouldn't work, but it's not at all natural.

I hesitate to say it's "wrong", but I don't think you'll ever actually hear a native speaker use that mixed construction.
 
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