My sons have a good friend called Ben. I thought I could say, " My sons love to be with Ben". But when I said it to his mother, she replied to me by saying, "Ben also loves being with them as well." Can't we say "love to be with" or are both "love to be with" and "love being with" correct? Is there any difference between these two?
You can say both but the nuances are a bit different because of the slightly different meanings. We usually use like to do something when we mean that we like the effect of doing it, or we think it is a good idea to do this thing because of its wider effects:
- I like to go to the dentist if my filling needs replacing.
This would imply that it's a sensible thing to do. In contrast, we usually use like doing something when we find the experience itself pleasurable or enjoyable. Consider this version of the sentence:
- I like going to the dentist if my filling needs replacing.
This would tend to imply that you were a bit of a masochist! Nonetheless, most of the time there will be little discernible difference in everyday speech. Both of your comments to each other were very complimentary!
Both are acceptable common usage. If there is a subtle difference, I'd say that "I love to be with X" refers more to an ongoing general state of existence, before/during/after the time spent; while "I love being with X" refers to my enjoyment of the specific instances of spending time with X. BTW don't worry about modifying your grammar according to Ben's mother's model, as there is a potential redundancy in her reply "Ben ALSO loves being with them AS WELL."