Which one of these sentences is correct?

  1. I don't bother to study.
  2. I don't bother studying.

Antony Quinn is correct, but I think it could do with a little more explanation.

No. 1 is perfectly understandable, but would not be used by a native English speaker. However, compare the following:

3) I won't bother to look for it

4) I won't bother looking for it

In my view 3 is just as acceptable as 4.

I think the difference in the two cases is to do with whether it is a specific or a general statement: to my intuition the "-ing" form is strongly preferred for a general sense, but not when a specific occasion is being referred to.

Also note that the almost synonymous phrase "can't be bothered" prefers the "to" form, though the "-ing" form is also found.

  • "I don't bother to study" sounds fine to me, as well as "studying". Is this a UK-US English difference? – Kosmonaut Oct 4 '10 at 14:50
  • Maybe. It certainly doesn't fit for me, in the UK. – Colin Fine Oct 5 '10 at 13:07
  • Also compare: "I didn't bother to study [before the test]". Sounds great to my American ears. – Charlie Oct 6 '10 at 6:43
  • Sounds good to me, too: this supports my suggestion that it's about specificity. – Colin Fine Oct 6 '10 at 11:32

Number 2 is correct: I don't bother studying.


From my (UK) perspective, "bother to study" sounds correct, and "bother studying" sounds colloquial. However, the implied casualness of "I don't bother" seems to establish a preference for the colloquial version.

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