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There are many cases that I have to choose between the -ing form of a verb and the -tion or - age nouns. Like this question:

Local waves within the harbor make ...... difficult, if not impossible. 1. anchoring 2. anchorage

Which one is correct? Is this because of grammer, or meaning, or common usage?

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The usage of anchorage in your example is incorrect. The words anchorage and anchoring are not interchangeable. One is an action, the other a location or place.

an·chor·age ˈaNGk(ə)rij noun

  1. an area that is suitable for a ship to anchor in.
  2. (historical) an anchorite's dwelling place.

Now, substitute the word anchorage with the area:

Local waves within the harbor make the area difficult, if not impossible.

As you can see, that sentence is incomplete.

Local waves within the harbor make anchoring|fishing|swimming difficult, if not impossible.

An action can be made more difficult, but not a place/location.

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