Saturday, December 8

Stop Smoking or Stop to Smoke? (Gerund vs. Infinitive)





Are you a smoker? Have you ever tried quitting? Do you have any plans to quit?



image courtesy of stock.xhng



Here’s a quote from Mark Twain, the American writer who brought us the novels Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He wrote this about smoking:



Quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

;-D



But, no matter how hard it is to break this habit, you should know how to talk about the act of quitting.



Should we say: Stop smoking or Stop to smoke?





Stop + Ving vs. Stop + to V:
What’s the Difference?  



There’s a big difference between these two forms.



In fact, when you say “stop smoking,” you mean this:






while when you say “stop to smoke,” you mean this:







As you can see from our pictures (I drew them by myself by the way ;-) when you say “stop smoking,” your actions are: (1) smoke, (2) smoke, (3) stop.



On the other hand, in the case of “stop to smoke,” your actions are: (1) walk, (2) stop, (3) smoke.




The Gerund



So, if you are a smoker and you are planning to quit, the structure V + Ving is what you need.



Ex.


I wanna stop smoking.



And if you want to use Verbs with a similar meaning:



quit, give up, finish



they will usually take the Ving (Gerund) as well. Like this:



quit eating fast food


give up looking for an apartment


finish writing the email



This is their meaning:



  • Stop smoking


     First, smoke, then >>> stop



  • Quit eating fast food


     First, eat, then >>> quit



  • Give up looking for an apartment


     First, look, then >>> give up



  • Finish writing the email 


     First, write, then >>> finish




The Infinitive



Stop to smoke.



First, you are walking. Then you stop. And finally, you smoke.



This meaning is also similar to that of other Verbs in English. For example, these Verbs:



plan, decide, hope, promise, agree, etc.



they are often followed by To V, not Ving. Like this:



plan to travel


decide to join


hope to visit


promise to meet


agree to buy



In other words, the action in the Infinitive form tends to be abstract or future.



Take a look:



  • Stop to smoke 


     First, stop, then >>> smoke



  • Plan to travel 


     First, plan, then >>> travel


  • Decide to join 


     First, decide, then >>> join


  • Hope to visit 


     First, hope, then >>> visit


  • Promise to meet 


     First, promise, then >>> meet


  • Agree to buy 


     First, agree, then >>> buy




Except…



In the topic of Gerunds and Infinitives, there are actually 4 different groups of Verbs in English. We’ve already studied the first two:



(1) Verbs usually followed by Ving


(2) Verbs usually followed by To V



Here are the other two:



(3) Verbs usually followed by either Ving or To V and with the same meaning


Ex. like, love, hate, begin, start, continue etc.



(4) Verbs usually followed by either Ving or To V with a difference in meaning


Ex. regret, remember, go on etc.




The most confusing part for learners is how to know which Verbs will be followed by an Infinitive or a Gerund, or both.



The rule that we mentioned above is only a small part of a bigger lesson. Of course there will be exceptions or situations where the rule doesn't work. 



In the end, the best way to learn Infinitives and Gerunds is to memorize many words in each group, not one by one. Please find lists of them in your grammar book, then you should learn them like Vocabulary – memorize a lot and fast.



I leave it to you to find out what other words belong to each group. Good luck!





Hope you learned something!

Keep on learning !















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