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There are some options when you use the word way and some verb together:

(1) a. There are some way of writing.
      b. There are some way to write.

Is there any difference between (1a) and (1b)?

However, it seems that you cannot use way plus the possessives and "to Verb" together:

(2) a. I'm used to their way of doing business.
      b. ? I'm used to their way to do business.

Do you agree with this judgement? If so, why is it impossible to use way plus the possessives and "to verb" at the same time?

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3 Answers 3

Both of your sentences in (1) are incorrect. They should be:

a. There are some ways of writing [the sentence continues].

b. There are some ways to write [the sentence continues].

The plural ways is important. Now that that is out of the way...

Your examples in (1) are not quite interchangeable. In mathematical terms, you might say that they are equal, but not congruent (or congruent, but not identical). The nuance is difficult to see in that pair of examples, but I'll try to highlight it as best I can.

In 1a, ways of writing is a noun phrase, and can be replaced with a single word or a different phrase without changing the underlying semantic structure of the sentence.

In 1b, though, ways stands alone as a noun and to write is the predicate of a separate clause.

The difference is subtle, I will grant, but it is a difference. Ways to write could not, for instance, be directly replaced with the noun orthographies or the noun phrase writing systems easily, although one can imagine them easily replacing ways of writing in any number of contexts.

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Interesting analysis; I just wonder what you mean by this: "In 1b, though, ways stands alone as a noun and to write is the predicate of a separate clause." I don't really see more than one clause; and I find it difficult to see how "to write" can be a predicate. I was taught that "to write" is an attribute of "ways". –  Cerberus Feb 19 '11 at 23:53
    
Thank you very much. –  user5234 Feb 20 '11 at 14:27

First, it should be

There are some ways of writing ...

and

There are some ways to write ...

The are implies a plural noun.

Second, "to write" and "of writing" in those sentences are identical in meaning.

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Thank you very much. –  user5234 Feb 20 '11 at 14:34

I would have to make a small edit to Stan Rogers's response.

He is quite right to say that there are grammatical differences between the two examples given.

However, grammar is where these differences end; there would be no problem with replacing both forms ('of' and 'to') with the same phrase...

Look at 'way of living' and 'way to live' - both of these could be comfortably replaced with the compound noun 'lifestyle' without causing any problems.

Likewise, 'ways of writing' and 'ways to write' could each be replaced with a phrase such as 'writing techniques'.

I also feel the need to point out that use of the word 'some' suggests that this should use a relative clause later on:

There are some ways of writing (to write) from ancient times that we have forgotten with the advancement of technology. Examples include...

Hope this helps.

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