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I see that some words in English are expressed in gerund, with the meaning corresponding to the infinitive, and used as infinitive verbs. Could someone please explain to me, why does this happen? I'm a spanish speaker :)

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  • No entiendo su pregunta. ¿Qué significa "gerund meaning"? o ¿"used as infinitive verbs"? Unos ejemplos de lo que usted no entiende nos ayudarían a responsarle.
    – ruakh
    Dec 23, 2017 at 1:41
  • (Y N.B. que "finish of read" no es gramatical, por eso no se considerará como ejemplo . . .)
    – ruakh
    Dec 23, 2017 at 1:43
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    Could you give an example of a gerund being used as an infinitive? It is unclear what you mean by that. Dec 23, 2017 at 3:20
  • I've reopened this only because I believe that it was closed when the wording was unclear, and that the edits make the question clear. If anyone feels this is in error, especially Camilo Espinosa, please just speak up.
    – tchrist
    Dec 24, 2017 at 20:26

1 Answer 1

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In English, the gerund phrase can be used either as a substantive or as a modifier. But in Spanish, gerund phrases can only ever be modifiers, specifically adverb phrases. So if you want to treat a verb phrase as a substantive in Spanish, you can only use the infinitive form there, never the gerund.

Since they’re fine as substantives, infinitive phrases work as subjects or objects in both languages:

  • To drink is to live.
    Beber es vivir.

  • He went there in order to see it.
    Fue allí para verlo.

Similarly, you can use a gerund phrase as a modifier in both languages:

  • Starting his night as always, Daniel left singing out loud.
    Empezando su noche como siempre, Daniel salió cantando en voz alta.

  • I arrived late, having forgotten her address.
    Llegué tarde, habiendo olvidado su dirección.

But when English uses a gerund phrase as a substantive, the Spanish version must always use only an infinitive phrase instead:

  • Seeing her at night is harder.
    Verla por noche es más difícil.

This is why Spanish speakers first learning English have questions like the original poster’s.

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