English Lesson: Stop Doing Vs. Stop to Do

Michael Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Do you smoke? I stopped smoking when I was in my mid-twenties, and I am glad I did. I used to stop to have a cigarette several times during the day. Now, when I walk by buildings in NYC, I can see lots of people outside who stop to smoke. These days my bad habit is drinking coffee. I often stop to have a coffee during the day. My doctor recently told me I should stop drinking coffee, but it is hard to do.

The word stop followed by an ing verb (gerund) and the stop followed by to + verb (infinitive) has two completely different meanings. Do you know the difference? Have a look at the paragraph above, and then check today’s lesson.

Stop + gerund (verb ing)

When you use stop followed by a gerund (verb ing), the meaning is “quit” or “finish.” For example:

  • I stopped smoking when I was in my mid-twenties. I quit smoking.
  • My doctor recently told me I should stop drinking coffee. I should quit drinking coffee.
  • I stopped working at 8pm last night. I finished working at 8pm.
  • Joe stopped playing X-BOX after 10 hours! He finished playing the game.

When you use stop followed by an infinitive (to + verb) the meaning is “take a break to do something.” For example:

  • She stopped to smoke. She was doing something, then she took a break so that she could smoke.
  • This morning in the office, I stopped to call my sister. I stopped working to phone my sister.
  • I often stop to drink a coffee during the day. I often take a break and drink coffee.
  • During the road to Boston, I stopped to have lunch. I took a break from driving to eat lunch.

Have you stopped doing something recently? Did you stop to read this lesson? Thanks for studying today. Please feel free to leave a comment any time!

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