Learn English Grammar – Stop Doing Vs. Stop to Do

Michael Grammar 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!

Keep in mind the best way to remember this or any vocabulary in English is to take the word or phrase write it in a sentence that’s true for you or true in your world and then memorize your sentences.

You can even take your sentences and write them in the comments below. I would love to see your examples. And if you really want help with vocabulary, sign up for my free vocabulary workshop (see below).

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

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