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I am wondering whether there is any difference between a gerund acting as subject and an infinitive acting as a subject.

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  • Sorry for my ignorance. Please could you show me an example of an infinitive acting as a subject? Jun 12, 2014 at 11:00
  • Possibly a duplicate of english.stackexchange.com/questions/384/… but this question isn't clear enough to me to feel sure.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jun 12, 2014 at 11:02
  • I am not sure what kind of a difference you mean -- difference in structure, meaning or usage.
    – Kris
    Jun 12, 2014 at 12:48
  • If you have great interest in the idea, try this, may be there's some useful info in there: paginaspersonales.deusto.es/urbina/Inglés/to-ing%20subjects.pdf
    – Kris
    Jun 12, 2014 at 12:53

2 Answers 2

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The Grammaring Guide to English Grammar has this to say.
Gerund as Subject

A gerund clause can be the subject of a sentence:
- Hiking can be a relaxing and rewarding activity.
- Swimming in the winter can boost your immune system.
- Learning a foreign language is easier at a young age.
The use of the gerund as subject is more common than that of the to-infinitive.

Infinitive as Subject

A to-infinitive clause can be the subject of a sentence:
- To tell the truth is always right.
- To complain would seem ungrateful.
But it is more common to start with the introductory it and place the to-infinitive clause at the end of the sentence:
- It is always right to tell the truth.
- It would seem ungrateful to complain.

If you have great interest in the idea, try this, may be there's some useful info in there.

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  • Nice piece, that final link; but I stumbled somewhat over Duffley's first example: "To have the Greek paper is not the great help that at first flush it seemed" vs. "Having the Greek paper is not the great help that at first flush it seemed." For WCs in Greece generally have signs saying not to flush the paper but to put it in a bin! ;-) Jun 12, 2014 at 13:10
  • @BrianDonovan Either way, can't say it doesn't wash.
    – Kris
    Jun 13, 2014 at 14:23
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Erring is human; forgiving is divine. I have here ruined the meter of Pope’s line (“To err is human; to forgive, divine”), but I for one cannot detect a jot of difference in meaning. So my admittedly “opinion-based” answer is, “nothing but rhythm.”

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