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Why most of the time some of the verbs(both infinitives and gerunds) are prefixed with the word started, is it a stylistic matter or does it give a better flow to the statement? Cant we use the base form of the verb without the word start? For example:

Recently in our school, they started teaching/to teach computer philosophy.

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It would be helpful if the OP could rewrite his example sentence to align it with the question title. At present the example sentence seems to focus on whether we follow start with the gerund or the infinitive, but I don't think that is what is being asked here. –  Shoe Apr 15 '12 at 7:22
    
I am closing this as NARQ because a) obviously you can say "teach" rather than "start teaching", just like you can say "jump" instead of "stop jumping" or "car" instead of "red car", b) obviously you will be changing the meaning if you do so, and c) obviously the part about "most of the time" is a false premise. Infinitives and gerunds in English are not "prefixed" with "started" most of the time. –  RegDwigнt Apr 15 '12 at 12:38
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closed as not a real question by RegDwigнt Apr 15 '12 at 12:31

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3 Answers

Sure you can use the verb without "started", but you'd have to adjust it and you'll lose some information.

Recently at* our school, they teach computer philosophy.

This sentence doesn't make sense because "recently" hangs there without anything to give it context. So you'd have to change it to:

At* our school, they teach computer philosophy.

Now the sentence makes sense, but now you've lost the information that the teaching of this course has begun only recently. Even if you left out "recently", the word would be implied, as in:

They started teaching computer philosophy at* our school.

It's information about when something started (you could also say "they began to teach..."). So it's not just a matter of style or flow, it gives the sentence temporal context.

*Edit: Unrelated to your question, but I'd say that "at our school" should be used instead of "in our school" for this example.

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-1 I don't see how this addresses OP's question (difference between teaching and to teach) at all. –  FumbleFingers Apr 15 '12 at 4:03
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I actually think OP is asking about the use of the word started and not about infinitive vs gerund. –  Jim Apr 15 '12 at 4:26
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@FumbleFingers: The question's title is "started + verb vs. verb", not "teaching vs. to teach" (those were just two options in the example sentence). Also, Noah clearly asks why verbs are prefixed with "started" and whether we can't just use the verb form without "started". I'm pretty sure I'm not the one misunderstanding the question here, perhaps you should read it again ;-) –  Amos M. Carpenter Apr 15 '12 at 4:47
    
Yes okay - I guess you're right. But in that case I agree with RegDwight that the actual question as posed doesn't make much sense anyway. Though it has prompted me to wonder why started/ceased don't seem to behave the same as commenced/stopped. I'll have to think about that one, and if I can't figure it out, maybe I'll post a question about it. –  FumbleFingers Apr 15 '12 at 13:04
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It's purely a matter of style whether you use the gerund (teaching) or the infinitive (to teach) after "started" - neither conveys any subtle nuance not shared by the other.

For OP's particular choice of verb, it so happens "started teaching" occurs more often, but as this chart for argue shows, both verb forms can be equally common.

enter image description here

But - this "gerund/infinitive equality" doesn't apply to all verbs...

Our school ceased/began teaching/to teach Latin last year. (both are okay)

Our school stopped/commenced teaching/*to teach Latin last year. (the infinitive is not okay here)

(As of right now, I can't actually say why this difference arises with certain auxiliary verbs.)

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I believe this is a totally correct answer to the wrong question :) The OP is asking why "started" is needed - teaching vs to teach is beside the point. –  Lynn Apr 15 '12 at 7:05
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It's a verb tense issue. You could use "recently + teach" in simple past tense:

Recently they taught computer philosophy at my school.

But this doesn't convey your intent. You're not talking about a single class that happened in the past. You're talking about the start of an ongoing action. That leads you to the progressive tense:

Recently they started teaching computer philosophy at my school.

Here is a source that tries to explain it further.

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