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What is more appropriate to say: It was nice being here or It was nice to be here? I hear both constructions pretty often, and am aware of the slight difference, but it seems that people use them interchangeably.

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    The first form is probably a little more idiomatic. The second has a minor point against it since it could be interpreted as saying "it was nice but no longer is", while the first implies that the niceness lasted for the entire duration of "being here". I think that difference (even though no one would ever actually use that alternate interpretation) may account for a tone difference, since one would subconsciously parse the statement with that possible alternative interpretation. – Hot Licks Apr 21 '15 at 3:10
  • The first is fine with me. The second would sound better to me as It's (has) been nice to be here. The second, as given, definitely sounds critical (It used to be nice to be here...) – Dan May 12 '15 at 21:34
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Both are alternatives with the same semantic meaning. The first says that "being here" (gerund) was nice. The second says that "to be here" (infinitival) was nice. Both can mean either of the following depending on the context (conveyed partly through tone and emphasis):

I enjoyed my stay here.

I used to enjoy being here.

The interchangeability of the gerund and to-infinitive can be found in many places:

But when as an object of a verb, usually only the gerund can be used:

I love to read. = I love reading.

I enjoy reading. (NOT I enjoy to read.)

You should practise writing. (NOT You should practise to write.)

This makes travelling easy. (NOT This makes to travel easy.)

As a side note, the following are not examples of the to-infinitive:

He agreed to come. ("agree to" is a phrasal verb just like "agree with")

Allow him to go. ("allow to" is a phrasal verb; compare with "let him go")

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The first, "It was nice being here" implies a length of time, as in, "Thank you for inviting me to come along for the weekend; it was nice being here."

The second implies a shorter interval of time, as in, "Thank you for having us over tonight; it was nice to be here."

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