Many if not all sources state that to endure is followed by a gerund.

In OALD, however, there's an example for both:

endure doing something He can't endure being defeated.
endure to do something He can't endure to be defeated.

I search the Internet but didn't find any other reliable sources that second this.

I checked COCA and found out the use of infinitive has indeed less frequency, but actually the results for both are so little (47:25) that I wouldn't say that this gives any conclusion.

Anyhow, my question is if there's a subtle difference between using gerund or infinitive?
And can anyone explain why all sources (that discuss gerund vs infinitive) state that endure is followed by a gerund, although infinitive is possible as well?

  • 1
    Both seem semantically odd to me. The normal collocations would be ‘bear to be defeated’ and ‘bear being defeated’. Jan 27, 2014 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


I guess I can answer my question myself.

There is a subtle difference between gerund and infinitive. It's just a matter of talking about real or possible experiences.

I can't endure having cats in my house.

This sentence basically indicates that I don't like having any cats in my house in general and you can be sure that I don't have any cats (in my house).

I can't endure to have cats in my house when my grandchild spends a weekend at my house.

This sentence indicates that I may have cats and, if so, that they probably live in my house. But for some reason I dislike having them in my house when my grandchild is around. Probably, they've got an allergy to cats.

  • You haven't addressed the fact that various commentators (Barrie, Bevj at wordreference.com, myself) find the 'endure + to-infinitive' construction very questionable. More importantly, Cobuild do not list it among their many examples of 'verb followed by to-infinitive' constructions. And there have been previous threads dealing with 'verb + -ing form' v 'verb + to-infinitive' analyses, specifying that some are synonymous but others carry different senses (eg 'forgot going' v 'forgot to go'). Hence the downvote. Jan 27, 2014 at 15:23
  • @EdwinAshworth 1) Barrie's comment was the reason I came up with that answer as there's no difference between "endure" and "bear" in respect to the question. Secondly, it doesn't matter if someone thinks using it is questionable when there are instances of actual use. So, if I or someone else is going to use it, what's the proper way: gerund or infinitive. There's good reason, Barrie made it a comment only. It's not important to the question.
    – Em1
    Jan 27, 2014 at 15:35
  • @EdwinAshworth Furthermore, show me the threads where this matter here is accurately answered. Just because of asking some question about gerund vs infinitive, not any of those specific instances are answered. I know the difference between "try to do" and "try doing" or "stop to do" and "stop doing". These differences are obvious. But there's no obvious difference for endure, and it's not properly discussed nowhere.
    – Em1
    Jan 27, 2014 at 15:36
  • There are perhaps 3 relevant hits in COCA. Most of the 30 I find for the string 'endure to' are of the form 'the struggles he must endure to be with her' or '[they] will long endure to remind us of...'. These are not catenations. 'Endure' does not behave exactly like 'bear'. There are 3 hits for 'He can't endure to be defeated.' on Google, and I think all 3 are for the OALD example. There are only 10 hits for "endure to be defeated." The OALD entry is highly suspect. Jan 27, 2014 at 17:08
  • 1
    'For some time now, contributors to EL&U have offered NGrams in support of their arguments. Now, there is nothing wrong with this practice per se: I have done so myself, and have seen others do it in a way that acknowledges the margin for error inherent in a flawed system. When done well it is done in a spirit of inquiry, citing the NGram as possible evidence; when it is done poorly, it is trumpeted as absolute proof of someone's contention.' [Robusto] On Google, 'I can't endure listening' : 'I can't endure to listen' frequencies = 400 : 1. But is this statistically significant? Jan 27, 2014 at 23:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.