What's the difference between "he's going to start walking" and "he's going to walk"? Are there any shades of meaning here?

  • 1
    Insufficient context. Are we talking about a baby, a man recovering from a severe diving accident, or a man who walks his dogs every night? Who is talking: parent, doctor, neighbor, spouse, baseball manager? – J.R. Jun 6 '12 at 11:47
  • Yes, I agree with J.R.. Insufficient information! – user20934 Jun 6 '12 at 11:50
  • @J.R. - I don't really have any context here. My question is simply about these two phrases. I heard both of them used in many different contexts and have always wondered if there is any difference between them. – brilliant Jun 6 '12 at 12:38
  • So, really, any verb will do? (For example, "He's going to start swearing," vs. "He's going to swear," or, "He's going to start driving," vs. "He's going to drive," or, "She's going to start swimming," vs. "She's going to swim.") If that's what you're asking, fine by me, but I still think you could improve the question to make that more clear. Or maybe there's something about walking in particular that throws you off your step? – J.R. Jun 6 '12 at 12:49
  • @J.R. - There isn't anything particular that throws me off here about the verb "walking", however, I didn't mean any other verb in my question, otherwise I would've phrased it as something like "What's the difference between such constructs as 'He's going to V-base' and 'He's going to start V-ing'" – brilliant Jun 6 '12 at 12:53

Both sentences mean either (A) a decided action or (B) a future happening based on the current situation.

(Of course if you're talking about a toddler, it's not A)

"He's going to start walking" also puts emphasis and focus on the commencement of the act.

Ex. He's tired and he's sitting on the park bench. But he's going to START WALKING soon.

On the other hand, "He's going to walk" doesn't have the same particular meaning and just refers to the act of walking as a whole.

Ex. He missed the last bus. He's going to WALK.

Similarly, if a toddler has never taken a step previously:

He's going to START WALKING.

And if I notice a more advanced (toddling-wise) kid is about to take a step:

He's going to WALK.


"He's going to start walking" sounds to me as a prediction based on present evidence. You see someone about to start walking and you use this construct.

"He's going to walk" could be interpreted again as a prediction based on present evidence, but it can have a different meaning, too. It can be the announcement of a decision he has taken which the speaker knows about.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.