kuen posted:

What's the difference between "I Like to read" and "I like reading"?

Hi, Kuen,

If your question is about the difference in meaning between those specific examples, then the answer is that there basically is no difference. If your question is about the broader distinction between "like to V" and "like V-ing," then of course things become more complicated.

Restricting ourselves to non-stative verbs, with "like V-ing," there is a presupposition that the action is actually done, and done regularly, by the agent. Since most people read regularly, the difference still doesn't stand out with your example. But consider the following example:

(A) Do you like to study in the library?
(B) Do you like studying in the library?

I could use (A) even if I didn't know whether you studied in the library at all. It is perfectly neutral as to whether you do in fact study in the library. In (B), by contrast, there is a strong hint of a presupposition that you do study in the library. It's not so strong as factual presuppositions with "stop V-ing," of course:

(C) Have you stopped studying in the library?

In (C), the speaker is obviously presupposing that you did study in the library. The question is whether you still do. In (B), the presupposition that you study in the library is not as robust as the presupposition is in (C), but it is there, nevertheless, to some extent. Now let's consider the case of stative verbs:

(D) I like living in California.
(E) ?? I like to live in California.

In (D), the speaker does in fact live in California. In (E), which is very strange unless we imagine a special context, it is not clear whether the speaker lives in California at the time of speech. Sentence (E) could be used by someone who relocates regularly and has a habit of sometimes relocating to California.

(F) Would you like to live in California?
(G) ?* Would you like living in California?

In (F), it is clear that the interlocutor does not live in California. Sentence (G) is pretty bad. While it might be possible to imagine a context in which it would not be ungrammatical, in normal contexts it is ungrammatical. With "Would you like . . . ?" questions, we follow "like" with the infinitive, not the gerund.

(H) Do you think you would like living in California?

That example is different from (G) in an important way. Sentence (H) invites the interlocutor to imagine himself living in California and asks whether he would like doing so. I hope I am not giving you too many variations. One has to go to some lengths to tease out the differences between "like to V" and  "like V-ing."

Hi David,

1. If I enjoy watching skiing on TV but I don't ski, is it correct to say " I like to ski" or "I like skiing"?

2. What's the difference between 2a and 2b?

2a. I like to study in the library.

2b. I like studying in the library. 

3.What's the difference  between 3a and 3b?

3a. I don't like to study in the library.

3b. I don't like studying in the library.

4. I like to study/ like studying in the library.

Do 'like to study' and 'like studying' here mean exactly the same?

Thank you very much for your great help.

kuen posted:

1. If I enjoy watching skiing on TV but I don't ski, is it correct to say " I like to ski" or "I like skiing"?

Hi, Kuen,

"Skiing" is a common noun, not a gerund, in "I enjoy watching skiing on TV." Notice that it is clear that "on TV" specifies where the watching occurs rather than where the skiing occurs. The following would be ungrammatical.

*I enjoy watching skiing down steep slopes.

In that example, which is ungrammatical, "skiing" is a gerund, not a common noun. In "I like skiing," "skiing" can be interpreted as a noun or as a gerund. If you mean for the sentence to be analogous to "I like gymnastics" (AS OPPOSED TO "I like doing gymnastics"), then you can use "I like skiing." You can't use "I like to ski" with that meaning. But you should be aware that unless there are contextual factors that make it clear that "skiing" is to be interpreted as a common noun rather than as a gerund, your readers or listeners will likely interpret "I like skiing" as meaning basically the same thing as "I like to ski."

kuen posted:

2. What's the difference between 2a and 2b?

2a. I like to study in the library.
2b. I like studying in the library. 

3.What's the difference  between 3a and 3b?

3a. I don't like to study in the library.
3b. I don't like studying in the library.

4. I like to study/ like studying in the library.

Do 'like to study' and 'like studying' here mean exactly the same?

There is no substantial difference in meaning between any of those sentence pairs. If you think there is, you are going to have to argue hard for it. Be my guest.

Hi David

Thank you very much for your very clear explanation.

According to my grammar book, there is difference in meaning between "I don't like to V" and "I don't like V-ing, for example,

I don't like to go. (It means I won't go because I don't like to go)

I don't like going. (It means I still have to go even if I don't like to go)

Could you please give your opinion on that?

Many thanks.

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×