I want to know, is there any difference between "stop + v.(ing)" and "stopped to + v.". These are example sentences.

I stop working for a month. vs I stopped to work for a month.
I stop watching movies. vs I stopped to watch movies.
I stop cooking for a year. vs I stopped to cook.

I read “I like to do (be) something” vs “I like doing (being) something” but I still don't understand what is the difference or when and how to use them.

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    – Doc
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 15:51
  • Why are you comparing past tense forms to present tense forms? Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 8:31

3 Answers 3


Both are correct, but they have very different meanings.

I stopped working means I once worked, and now no longer do. I stopped to work means that I once was doing something (unspecified, based on context), and I ceased from doing it so that I could work. The infinitive (to work) here has the meaning of in order to work and so that I could work.

So I stopped cooking means I once cooked, and no longer do, but I stopped to cook means I stopped [doing something] so that I was then able to cook.

  • They cannot be both correct because OP's original sentence is "I stop working for a month." which is ungrammatical.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 8:44
  • 2
    I stop working isn't ungrammatical, just unusual. There are some contexts it works: Every summer I stop working for a month to work on my tan. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 9:26
  • 1
    @curiousdannii "I stop working for a month" vs. "I stopped to work for a month" is an error, or a typo whichever you prefer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 11:41

The first sentences here, I think, are meant to be in the past simple, not the present:

  • I stopped working.
  • I stopped watching movies.
  • I stopped cooking.

All these sentences mean that I was doing some activity, working, watching or cooking at some point in the past, and then I finished doing it. In these cases, the verb stop is taking another verb as its complement. This verb must be in the -ing form.

The second sentence in each of the Original Poster's examples uses the verb stop without a complement. Because the verb stopped doesn't have a complement, we don't know what activity was happening. We don't know what I stopped doing. The I stopped part of the sentence is the same as just saying:

  • I stopped.

The second parts of these sentences use infinitives of purpose. We use infinitives of purpose to explain why someone does, did, or is going to do something:

  • I go to the gym to stay fit.
  • I went to the bar to get a drink.
  • I'm flying to Paris to visit my sister.

Why did I go to the gym? To stay fit.

In the Original Poster's example sentences, we don't know what I was doing, but we know why I stopped doing it:

  • to work for a month
  • to watch movies
  • to cook

These infinitives are not complements of the verb stop. The are adjuncts (or 'adverbials') which explain why I stopped doing whatever I was doing. They provide extra information.

Hope this helps


Kevin says he stopped to travel traveling internationally because of his family.

We can use the verb stop with both the gerund and the infinitive. When we use stop with the gerund, it means that someone was doing something and then stopped.

Correct: Kevin stopped working at 6 PM last night. (Kevin was working until 6 PM. After 6 PM, he wasn’t working anymore.) Incorrect: Kevin stopped to work at 6 PM last night.

When we use stop with the infinitive, it means that we stopped doing something in order to start doing something else.

Correct: At 10 AM, Lucy and Fernando always stop to take a coffee break. (Lucy and Fernando work until 10 AM and then stop working in order to take a coffee break) Incorrect: At 10 AM, Lucy and Fernando always stop taking a coffee break.

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