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How does one know when to use a gerund or a infinitive?

What is the difference in connotation between

How easy is it to "some verb here"


How easy is "some verb here"

What is the significance of using "it" in the first example?


2 Answers 2


The 'some verb' bit needs a different form, e.g.

How easy is it to program?


How easy is programming?

Both can be used in a general sense, in this case either form might be asked by someone considering a new career, but the first could also be used about a specific task.

  • yes David, the syntax I typed is a bit misleading. feel free to edit it.
    – Thale
    Mar 6, 2012 at 23:42
  • "specificity" - noted in the case when nothing else is mentioned. "How easy is to drive a car" or "How easy is driving a car"? - what if something else is mentioned that is connected to the verb driving or any other verb in its place? or even for that matter drop the "a car" part
    – Thale
    Mar 6, 2012 at 23:47
  • 1
    "How easy is it to drive a car" and "How easy is driving a car" contain their own specificity, and are equivalent. "How easy is it to drive" and "How easy is driving" are again equivalent in the general case (where "it" is abstract), but the former could also be used in a specific case (where "it" is a particular car).
    – DavidR
    Mar 7, 2012 at 9:42
  • so it always points to something; even if its invisible in the sentence. OK.
    – Thale
    Mar 7, 2012 at 9:45

"How easy is to do something" is not a correctly formed English sentence. You can say:

  • "how easy is it to play the guitar", or
  • "how easy is playing the guitar"

but not "how easy is to play the guitar".


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