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like to do different from like doing?

You have words - now what do you do with them?

like to do different from like doing?

Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Jul 30, 2005 5:32 pm

I was amazed, not to say, intrigued, when I saw this in a book I'm using to coach someone for an internationally recognized English text:

Gavin likes getting up early because it's so quiet.
Pete likes to get up early so he can get to work before the rush hour starts.

Who enjoys getting up early? Who chooses to get up early, but may not particularly enjoy it?


The answers are obvious, given the context.

Then here's the answer the book gives:

Gavin enjoys getting up, Pete chooses to get up. Like + -ing means 'to enjoy', like + infinitive means 'you think it is a good idea and you do it if possible.


I don't know. This doesn't feel right. This book I'm using is British, that's why I have to really get prepared for a class, otherwise I could be caught with my pants down. This is probably a differentiation that only the Brits make?
Besides, if Gavin likes to get up early so he can get to work before rush hour starts, and that doesn't necessarily mean that he likes it, does he really like it, in the strictest sense of the word?

A British grammar book I consulted said that like can be followed by either the ing or the infinitive, with no difference in meaning, then it goes on to say that sometimes (my quote), they may not be interchangeable.

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Postby KatyBr » Sat Jul 30, 2005 6:32 pm

Actually, Dude, I rather agree with the brits on this. just as aime and amor switch sides 'like' has it's gradations of meanings.

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Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Jul 30, 2005 7:08 pm

just as aime and amor switch sides

Could you explain this?

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Postby Garzo » Sat Jul 30, 2005 7:30 pm

The difference between the use of the gerund and the infinitive with the catenative like is so mild that it's probably not a good thing to teach: teaching it might induce more confusion than is necessary.

Generally, the infinitive with like implies habitual action: the infinitive is the verbal noun that expresses the action of the verb. However, the gerund with like implies the choice or idea beind the action: the gerund is the verbal noun that expreses the idea of the verb.

Other catenative verbs exhibit a far greater gulf of meaning between these two constructions than does like. I hate for a student to trip over their words while trying to figure out whether they like the idea of something or the thing itself. There is something, I believe, to be said for the confidence to speak as you feel.

-- Garzo.
"Poetry is that which gets lost in translation" — Robert Frost
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Postby tcward » Sat Jul 30, 2005 8:56 pm

Gavin likes getting up early because it's so quiet.
Pete likes to get up early so he can get to work before the rush hour starts.

Who enjoys getting up early? Who chooses to get up early, but may not particularly enjoy it?


So what the book seems to be saying is that likes+gerund should typically be followed with because phrases, whereas likes+infinitive should typically be followed with so phrases.

I don't buy that either, necessarily. I think the context should determine what is most "comfortable" to use.

Using because forms a statement of reason. I think in these cases, it does not matter much whether you use the infintive or the gerund form.

The reason Gavin likes getting up early is that it is so quiet.
The reason Gavin likes to get up early is that it is so quiet.


Using so forms a statement of order. In these cases it does not sound as natural to use the gerund form... Well, that's not necessarily true. I think the gerund form changes the meaning subtly, so that it implies real pleaure with the results, moreso than an interest in achieving the results.

Pete likes getting up early in order to beat the rush hour traffic.
Pete likes to get up early in order to beat the rush hour traffic.


But maybe that's just me.

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Postby KatyBr » Sat Jul 30, 2005 9:12 pm

Brazilian dude wrote:
just as aime and amor switch sides

Could you explain this?

Brazilian dude

remember how we discussed the way The French use amor to mean like, and aime, like to mean love?

oops it was on the Other mg
what is love and you were the one who commented on the French aime (like) meaning love for them In your examples check the context also for exact meaning.

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Postby anders » Sun Jul 31, 2005 3:54 am

The difference I thing I would make, apart from overusing the gerund because we have nothing like it and tend not to use it when really required, is that "get up" focusses more on the result, and "getting up" on the process. Would that be terribly wrong, quite wrong or rather just wrong?
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Postby Garzo » Sun Jul 31, 2005 9:27 am

I think the differentiation between because and so is a bit of a red herring.

The first factor here is the nuanced use of like. It most usually means a considered enjoyment of something. However, it can be used to say 'this is how it is':

"I would like to talk to you in my office now!"

The employer here is not exhibiting considered enjoyment, but is using polite language (compared to "I want to talk..") to describe a desir fostered out of necessity. Notice that the above sentence would be rendered nonsense if used with the gerund:

"I would like talking to you in my office now!"

This construction prohibits the interchangeability of the two verbal nouns, and maybe it is important for a student to know this. Now, look at these sentences:

1. "I like talking with you."
2. "I like to talk with you."

I feel that the first sentence is more natural, friendly and intimate. The second sentence can be used in context, and with appropriate inflexion, to have the same meaning as the first. However, it implies enjoyment of the action of talking, even to the preclusion of true dialogue, or that the conversation is a necessary choice, albeit not unpleasant.

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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Jul 31, 2005 10:25 am

So what the book seems to be saying is that likes+gerund should typically be followed with because phrases, whereas likes+infinitive should typically be followed with so phrases.

No, Tim, the book is discussing whether one should use the gerund or the infinitive after like. What follows is immaterial, although it does help to set the right context.

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Postby tcward » Sun Jul 31, 2005 5:58 pm

Brazilian dude wrote:
So what the book seems to be saying is that likes+gerund should typically be followed with because phrases, whereas likes+infinitive should typically be followed with so phrases.

No, Tim, the book is discussing whether one should use the gerund or the infinitive after like. What follows is immaterial, although it does help to set the right context.

Brazilian dude


Yes, I get that. But I think there is more at work here than is obvious.

Use of the verb enjoy always requires the gerund form of the verb that is the object thereof. I tried to think of some examples where the infinitive form might be acceptable, but I could not.

Sally enjoys running in the rain.
Sally would enjoy running in the rain.
Sally had enjoyed running in the rain.

Billy enjoys eating pizza.
Billy would enjoy eating pizza.
Billy had enjoyed eating pizza.


That's why it's crystal clear what the speaker/writer means when the gerund form is used to express enjoyment through the verb like.

On the other hand, the verb choose most often teams with the infinitive form of its verb-object. But I still think there is something else that is hidden in the because-so duality.

I think the subtle message from the authors is that you don't enjoy something in order to do or have something else. You enjoy something for a reason.

However, all that aside...

I think the hidden force of like is that is has a multiplicity of uses.

In my experience, in North American English, you can get away with either the gerund or the infinitive form to express enjoyment or preference. (In the case of preference, I think the infinitive form makes that clearer.)

LIKE as PURE ENJOYMENT:
Sandra likes driving...
Sandra likes to drive...
......but only when no one else is on the road.

Ben liked riding his bike...
Ben liked to ride his bike...
......especially when it was raining.

LIKE as PREFER:
Richie likes to clean the kitchen right after any social gathering at his place, so he doesn't have to do it the next day.
Susan likes cleaning the kitchen right after any social gathering at her place, so she doesn't have to do it the next day.

LIKE as WANT:
Sandra would like to drive when no one else is on the road.
Ben would like to call his friend, as soon as the phone company has fixed the line.

I think in the above examples, the meaning of like is made clear, based on context.

The only time the infinitive form is required is when the writer/speaker means want, in which case the modal would changes the meaning to conditional to convey the intended meaning when combined with the infinitive form.

Modal would like still means would enjoy when combined with a gerund instead of an infinitive.

But that may just be me.

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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Jul 31, 2005 6:12 pm

In my experience, in North American English, you can get away with either the gerund or the infinitive form to express enjoyment or preference. (In the case of preference, I think the infinitive form makes that clearer.)

I think you got it, Tim. This is the variety I'm used to, so reading anything different from that was very strange and felt wrong.

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Re: like to do different from like doing?

Postby English Rose » Fri Aug 26, 2005 11:47 am

Brazilian dude wrote:
Gavin likes getting up early because it's so quiet.
Pete likes to get up early so he can get to work before the rush hour starts.
Who enjoys getting up early? Who chooses to get up early, but may not particularly enjoy it?

The answers are obvious, given the context.
Then here's the answer the book gives:
Gavin enjoys getting up, Pete chooses to get up. Like + -ing means 'to enjoy', like + infinitive means 'you think it is a good idea and you do it if possible.

Flummoxed dude

I agree with the text, Brazilian dude. I can also add that the fictitious Pete's habit is out of necessity, i.e. it could be written:
Pete needs/has get up early....

D'you say flummoxed in Brazil? :o Are you a US or British bloke living in Brazil? I've always personally considered it to be an English English dialect word! So I'm now consulting my Concise Oxford Dictionary for the origin of the word:
It's [19th c: prob. dial. imit.]. I love using it in appropriate circumstances!

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Postby tcward » Fri Aug 26, 2005 1:18 pm

I say 'flummoxed' all the time...

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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri Aug 26, 2005 2:45 pm

D'you say flummoxed in Brazil?

Well, those who speak English, know the word flummoxed and like it, use it.

Are you a US or British bloke living in Brazil?

Neither, I'm just a Brazilian guy who speaks English. I'm no bloke, I'd rather be broke. I'm a dude, thank you.

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Postby KatyBr » Fri Aug 26, 2005 3:44 pm

Where does Bloke come from? and why do men allow themselves to be called that funny name?
(like Dude and guy aren't funny.... well men are funny creatures, and that's a fact)

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