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To be+ infinitive/gerund

Cours gratuits > Forum > Forum anglais : Questions sur l'anglais || En bas


To be+ infinitive/gerund
Message de maxence2826 posté le 20-09-2020 à 21:12:09 (S | E | F)
Hello everyone !

I've been wondering something with the verb TO BE : do we have to follow it with an infinitive or a gerund ? I'm not talking about the continuous present tense of course, but in a more general case.
I understand the difference between :
- My main hobby is running (for an activity)
- The only reason I do it is to protect you (for a goal)

But I've seen for example (in a movie I think): All I do is complain. Is it right ? I would have said "All I do is complaining"...
Can someone explain me the different uses of an infitinive or a gerund with the verb To Be please ?
Thanks !

Modifié par lucile83 le 20-09-2020 22:20

Réponse : To be+ infinitive/gerund de teacher83, postée le 21-09-2020 à 05:55:47 (S | E)
Actually in your example, ' Complaining' is not working as a verb but as a noun. A noun made from a verb. I think we get mistaken because we use an infinitive verb in French ' je ne fais que me plaindre'. Whereas after ' be', you're more likely to find a noun in English. That's what's called ' une nominalisation' in Linguistics.

Still, 'All I do is complain' seems weird to me.
Many verbs work this way too. Here is a link for extra-tips: Lien internet

I hope this helps a bit!


Modifié par lucile83 le 21-09-2020 07:46

Réponse : To be+ infinitive/gerund de gerondif, postée le 21-09-2020 à 06:21:51 (S | E)
All you do is complain means you always complain, you do nothing but complain, must you always complain?
I take that complain in for an infinitive without to of the verb, a kind of reproach.
In "you keep complaining, stop complaining", you would protest more against the repetitiveness of that action.

Réponse : To be+ infinitive/gerund de sherry48, postée le 22-09-2020 à 15:05:08 (S | E)
Previous posts mention complaining as a gerund. You could use a gerund at the beginning of your sentence. In English, one way to call attention to your primary idea is to place it at the 'front' of the sentence.
'All he does is complain' calls attention to the frequency of complaints. Complaining is all he ever does calls attention to the action.
Consider also after another verb. He likes to complain. This is an action that he regularly engages in, so the infinitive (verb) is required.
He likes complaining. The verb is likes. It is clear who likes what, but less clear who complains. It could be understood that he (the teacher, for example) likes it when the students complain. Of course this is unlikely.
I hope this is helpful.

Réponse : To be+ infinitive/gerund de maxence2826, postée le 03-10-2020 à 12:59:23 (S | E)
Hi ! Thanks for anwering !

That's a bit clearer in my mind.

I get the impression that infinitive is often used to describe generalized events, things we are used to doing or absolute truths, while gerund is more related to accurate situations ?

Réponse : To be+ infinitive/gerund de gerondif, postée le 03-10-2020 à 15:57:29 (S | E)
We used to make a difference between:

I like teaching . I am used to doing that, I have already done it many times.
And :
I like to teach in good conditions : which is more an ideal, sometimes a dream when you work in bad conditions.

Réponse : To be+ infinitive/gerund de teacher83, postée le 03-10-2020 à 19:17:21 (S | E)

I definitely agree with Gerondif's latest comment. I was taught the same. Still, the most recent English schoolbooks no longer seem to make any difference between both structures.

And I wonder if the difference is not too subtle now to be an issue in daily life.



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