Learn English Grammar – Infinitive vs. Gerund as a Subject

MichaelAD Grammar Leave a Comment

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)

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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