Grammar Points

to – vs. -ing (Infinitive vs. Gerund)

As an English teacher, it’s important to know why some things feel natural and other things do not when correcting student work.

One common correction regards the use of “to verb” versus “verbing”. When to use which?

Cambridge has a good explanation here:

We can use hate, like, love and prefer with an –ing form or with a to-infinitive:
I hate to see food being thrown away.
I love going to the cinema.
I prefer listening to the news on radio than watching it on TV.
He prefers not to wear a tie to work.

In American English, the forms with to-infinitive are much more common than the –ing form.

There is a very small difference in meaning between the two forms. The -ing form emphasises the action or experience. The to-infinitive gives more emphasis to the results of the action or event. We often use the –ing form to suggest enjoyment (or lack of it), and the to-infinitive form to express habits or preferences.

Using Punctuation With Quotations

Commas and periods that are part of the overall sentence go inside the quotation marks, even though they aren’t part of the original quotation.

Correct: “The best investments today,” according to Smith, “are commodities and emerging-market stocks.”
Incorrect: “The best investments today”, according to Smith, “are commodities and emerging-market stocks”.

(The original text quoted above is as follows: “The best investments today are commodities and emerging-market stocks, not domestic stocks and bonds.”)

Unless they are part of the original quotation, all marks other than commas or periods are placed outside the quotation marks.

Correct: She provides a thorough list of problems in her most recent article, “Misery in Paradise”; she doesn’t provide a solution.
Incorrect: She provides a thorough list of problems in her most recent article, “Misery in Paradise;” she doesn’t provide a solution.

 

Correct: Wasn’t it Dickens who wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”?
Incorrect: Wasn’t it Dickens who wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times?”

From the Punctuation Guide.

Much, Many, A Lot of, and Lots Of

We use much with singular uncountable nouns and many with plural nouns:

[talking about money]

I haven’t got much change. I’ve only got a ten euro note.
Are there many campsites near you?

Much and many are also more formal than a lot of.

Much and many are used in negative sentences, whereas a lot of is used in positive sentences.

I don’t have much money, but I have a lot of good friends.

Lots of functions similarly to a lot of, but is more informal.

From the Cambridge Dictionary. Click on the link to learn more.

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