One-Point English Lesson: Infinitive or Gerund as a Subject

Michael Grammar Leave a Comment

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Did you know that you can use an infinitive (to + VERB) or a gerund (VERBing) as the subject of a sentence in English? It’s true, but you need to be careful of when you make the choice.

The gerund is used as the subject of a sentence in everyday, usual English, like this:

  • Studying English every day is the best way to improve.
  • Exercising is important for staying healthy.
  • Waiting for a bus on a hot day is pretty uncomfortable.

The infinitive is used as a subject of a sentence when you are talking about abstract or philosophical ideas:

  • To be or not to be. That is the question. (Shakespeare was speaking philosophically)
  • To love another person would be out of the question.
  • To spend time in the garden is relaxing for the mind and the body.

Unless you want to sound like a philosopher or Shakespeare, it is best to use the gerund as the subject of a sentence. Compare these:

  • Working hard is the best way to advance in the company. (This sounds like natural English)
  • To work hard is the best way to advance in the company. (This is unnatural and sounds too philosophical)

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