There are two different pieces of information on this topic, and they are both from trusted sources but these two pieces of information are totally different. So I would love to be answered by a professional or a native speaker who is good at grammar. Please explain;

The information on Cambridge Dictionary (online): ''The- ing form emphasises the action or experience. The to-infinitive gives more emphasis to the results of the action or event. We often use the -ing form to suggest enjoyment (or lack of it) and the to-infinitive form to express habits or preferences.

The information on English Grammar In Use by R. Murphy; ''We use -ing (not to...) when we talk about a situation that already exists (or existed)

According to Cambridge Dictionary; I should use ''to'' in this sentence ''We have a lot of fruit in the garden. I like to make jam every year.''

but ''-ing'' in this sentence according to English Grammar In Use; Paul lives in Berlin now. He loves living there.

To me, both sentences express a situation that already exists. The confusion is here. Why is it incorrect to write; ''''We have a lot of fruit in the garden. I like making jam every year.'' Because I think a habit is also a situation that is already exists.

And why is it incorrect to write ''Paul lives in Berlin now. He loves to live there.'' while it's about -a result of an action-

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    He loves to live there is definitely not idiomatic. I would say that it was an existing situation rather than the result of an action. Also, I like making jam suggests that you enjoy the activity, I like to make jam that you think it is a worthwhile thing to do with all that fruit. Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 11:18
  • Possible duplicate: english.stackexchange.com/questions/546439/…
    – Greybeard
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 12:37
  • 1
    @Araucaria-Nothereanymore just got home from the emergency service, wont be able to read it for 2 days. i ll let you know thanks in advance
    – user442526
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 21:15

2 Answers 2


There are many factors affecting choice of construction in English. Here,

  • (1) I like to make jam.


  • (2) I like making jam.

are both grammatical, idiomatic, and boil down (be nice; it is Christmas) to the same meaning, though (1) does hint at the repeated procedures and (2) (as CD says) at the durative process. However,

  • (1') I like to make jam every year.

is the preferred choice because the iterative choice sits more comfortably with 'every year'.


  • (3) Paul loved to visit Berlin when he could do.

is again an iterative situation, and I'd say sounds better than the ing-form alternative here. But

  • (4) Paul loves living in Berlin.

sounds a lot better than the to-infinitival form, because this is durative rather than iterative.

  • Thanks for the clarity. 'Iterative' and 'durative', even though not the prettiest of words, hit this subtle distinction perfectly.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 19:59
  • +1 because you asked forgiveness for the pun! Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 13:56

Which complement type to use is determined first and most importantly by which verb is being used, and only secondarily by possible pragmatic usages. Most verbs that take untensed complement clauses (infinitives and gerunds) take only one or the other.

For instance, want takes an infinitive, whereas enjoy takes a gerund.

  • She wants to visit Uncle Leonard ~ *She wants visiting Uncle Leonard
  • *She enjoyed to visit Uncle Leonard ~ She enjoyed visiting Uncle Leonard.

Sense verbs like see and hear can take either an infinitive (without to) or a gerund, with no difference in meaning.

  • I saw him leave ~ I saw him leaving.

Other verbs that can take either type often have special differences, like try, where the infinitive complement (with to) has a special Gricean implicature not shared by the gerund complement.

  • *I tried to open the door, and it swung open easily.
  • I tried opening the door, and it swung open easily.
    (try to V implicates failure to V; this is not true of try V-ing)

The examples given in the OQ use the verbs like and love, both of which can take either an infinitive (with to) or a gerund, without any difference in meaning.

As for the information that was the source of the question -- if you look carefully, you are dissatisfied. That is because the information is vague and uses undefined terms. Essentially it's handwaving. Most online grammatical information is like that.

Dictionaries, by the way, do not give good grammatical information; that's not the purpose of a dictionary. That's the purpose of a grammar.

  • I'm afraid I disagree that like and love with to or the gerund do not have a different meaning. For me, I love to play tennis, goes to the idea of what I love. I love playing tennis. goes to the action I love. It may be minor, but it seems to me to be slightly different.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 20:37
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    Whenever there is a choice for the speaker to make, some speakers find a use for the distinction. However, not all speakers make the distinction, and not all those who do find the same use for it. Everybody has personal usages, habits, and meanings which others don't have (though they may get used to others' having them). Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 21:37
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    I agree with that.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 23:35

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