I am quite confused about the usage over infinitive verbs and gerunds when talking about nouns.

For example:

A car for transporting people.


A car to transport people.

both have the same meaning.

The same goes for,

A video for teaching kids geometry.


A video to teach kids geometry.

But why is it that when I say,

A person to talk to.


A person for talking to.

the latter does not match in terms of meaning with the former? The way I'm constructing the sentences hasn't changed compared to the first two examples, yet "a person for taking to" does not have the same meaning as "a person to talk to", while also being quite an awkward expression by itself.

Could anyone explain why this happens?

1 Answer 1


In my opinion, "A person for talking to" makes it sound like this person's (sole) purpose is for you (or just anyone) to talk to them. It makes it sound like this person is designed for this purpose or role. When the to-infinitive form is used, as in "A person to talk to," it makes it sound like this is a person that you can talk to, but someone who is not designed for this purpose (they have their own life). It is just someone that you can talk to, because this person is your friend or whatever, and it puts the focus on this aspect... that you can talk to this individual, that they're open to you doing this with respect to them. It is not about this person's given role or function in a general sense, that is a description of their identity, as in the cases of "A car for transporting people" and "A video for teaching kids geometry."

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.