Grammatically, "It is fun to write English letters." is correct. But is the following also grammatically correct?

It is fun writing English letters.


Both Gerund and Infinitive Subject Complements can be Extraposed -- inserting a dummy It -- with the predicate adjective (be) fun.

  • (For Indef) To write English letters is fun. ~ It is fun to write English letters.
  • (Indef('s)) Writing English letters is fun. ~ It is fun writing English letters.

This is not necessarily true with other predicates, which all have unique patterns, as the second link should make clear.

  • Although all four constructions are grammatically correct, only two sound like something a human, native English speaker would say: "It is fun to write" and "Writing is fun." The other options are valid but very unnatural-sounding.
    – MT_Head
    Jul 6 '12 at 6:10
  • Yes. That's the purpose of Extraposition. English is a right-branching language, and we prefer heavy constituents like clauses at the end of the sentence. So we have syntactic rules like Extraposition that function to move them to the end (remembering to leave that fig-leaf "Dummy Subject" It behind, of course) Jul 6 '12 at 12:47
  • 1
    My point was that it might have benefited the OP had you mentioned that in your answer. Many of the questions on ELU are posted by non-native English speakers, who would generally like to know not only "is this construction grammatically correct?" but also "will I sound natural if I use this construction?"
    – MT_Head
    Jul 6 '12 at 16:13
  • That isn't what they asked about. And you can't sound natural until you sound natural, which means paying attention to pronunciation instead of syntax. Anybody who doesn't speak and pronounce naturally is not going to get anywhere in writing naturally. Jul 6 '12 at 16:47
  • By that logic, asking questions on ELU can't possibly help them, since there's no way for us to hear pronunciation. What a dismal, reductive viewpoint.
    – MT_Head
    Jul 6 '12 at 16:51

I suspect that what is behind the OP’s question is uncertainty over when to use to + the plain form of the verb and when to use the -ing form of the verb. In the examples given, there is little or no difference (although they are rather unlikely sentences in any formulation).

Elsewhere there are differences, as a good reference grammar designed for foreign learners will show. For example, in some cases the construction with to + the plain form of the verb, as explained in ‘An A-Z of English Grammar and Usage’ by Leech and others, describes a possible action, while the -ing form describes the actual performance of the action.

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