Which is more grammatically correct:

"I like to speak Japanese."


"I like speaking Japanese."

Also, do they mean the same thing? Why is one better than the other, if they differ?

  • 1
    They are both grammatical. They both mean the same thing. The verb like can take either an infinitive complement clause (to speak Japanese) or a gerund complement clause (speaking Japanese). Every verb has its own rules about what kinds of complement clause they can take. That's all. Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 0:50
  • But doesn't "I like speaking Japanese" imply "I am speaking Japanese"? I don't mean directly but indirectly. Meaning that I am speaking Japanese in the first place.
    – user53320
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 0:52
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    Both imply you speak Japanese. If you don't speak Japanese you should say "I would like to speak Japanese" (meaning you would like to learn it) or "I would like speaking Japanese" (meaning you would enjoy doing so if you learned it). Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 1:50
  • @StoneyB~ I think they are referring to the notion (often found on grammar blogs) that "I like -ing" should be used when -ing is a regular activity, but "I like to -" should be used when don't get the opportunity to '-' as often as you would like. For example "I like swimming; I do it every morning" -v- "I like to swim but I am too busy to find the time" Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 2:15

1 Answer 1


Both are grammatical, but sometimes the to-infinitive describes a possible action (particularly when the preceding clause includes would), and the -ing form describes the actual performance of the action. Whether that distinction is relevant in this case could be determined only by knowing more about the context.

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