I am writing notes for my student in lab courses. In the last section, I am trying to interpret the results obtained in a previous one. I am trying therefore, to give an example by saying the following phrase :

In a way, this is equal to saying that...

I was wondering if equal to can be followed by a gerund and if not, are there any other potential ways of saying the same thing?

  • Welcome to ELU! Why do you think that "equal to" can't be a followed by a gerund? – as4s4hetic Dec 17 '17 at 12:32
  • 1
    @as4s4hetic Thank's for welcoming me! I think it can indeed be followed, but I am not sure. So mainly I wanted to confirm it! – Thanos Dec 17 '17 at 12:36
  • Short answer: Your thoughts were correct :) – as4s4hetic Dec 17 '17 at 12:52
  • @as4s4hetic : I am glad! Could you please post this as an answer so that I can accept it? Thank's in advance! – Thanos Dec 17 '17 at 13:15

Notwithstanding the connection between your question and ELU, there are two considerations and I have one comment.

The first is that any speaker of English will understand the phrase ‘is equal to saying’.

The second is that the expression comes across slightly strangely. This is partly because phrases that include ‘equal to ...’ are usually about someone’s capability to perform some task. “I am /am not equal to (or ‘up to’) marking all these papers you have given me”.

Partly, it is because there are more widely used ways to say what you are saying: ‘...equivalent to saying ...’ or ‘the same as saying...’

My comment is about the use of the word gerund. It has become popular to call the ‘-ing’ form of a verb a participle, when it is used as an adjective, and a gerund, when used as a noun. It’s wide usage in this way makes it impossible to say it is wrong.

BUT the language from which the word ‘gerund’ originates, Latin, has a distinct form for the noun form of a verb: the ending ‘-ndum’. the sentence I must go can be expressed as eundum est mihi (literally, ‘there is a going to me’ or ‘I have a going to do’ŷ. So we get the word ‘gerund. If you were trying to say the same thing in Latin, you would not use a gerund: you would use an infinitive, as you could (just about) in English. And, as far as I am aware, in the sentence seeing is believing we would not call the two -ing words gerunds, just on the basis that they are being used as subject and noun complement. We have simply decided to use the participle form as a noun.

None of this prevents you from from using the phrasing you propose, with or without the small improvement I suggested at the beginning.

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The English grammar rules state that whenever there is a verb coming straight after a preposition, the verb should be used in a gerund form.

For example: `

I got tired of repeating the same task every single day.

From the above examples, you can see that the preposition of is followed by the verb repeat in the gerund form.

Going back to your example, the verb say is preceded by the preposition to and according to the rule stated above, the verb should follow the preposition in the gerund form. Hence,

In a way, this is equal to saying that...

is grammatically correct.

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