4

May I know if the sentences below are correct. If not, why? Is there a difference between laughter and laughing? Thank you.

  1. Make laughing a habit.
  2. Make laughter a habit.
  3. Make exercise a habit.
  4. Make exercising a habit.
1
  • FYI, "May I know if the sentences below are correct?" is not commonly said in English. "May" is used to ask for permission but what you are doing is simply asking a question. It would be more appropriate to say, "Are the sentences below correct?" or (more polite and more unassuming) "Would you please let me know if the sentences below are correct?"
    – G-Cam
    Oct 10 '16 at 12:44
1

laughing and laughter are both nouns. laughing is the activity: laughter is the product of that activity.

For the statement Make X a habit, X can either be an activity or a product:

Make walking a habit <- activity
Make compassion a habit <- product

Some words can be used as both the product-noun, the activity-noun and the verb: examples are exercise, work, play, sleep. For these words, there is no need to use the gerund to refer to the activity: it is possible but not idiomatic.

Looking at your examples, all are grammatically correct. For sentences 1 and 2, there is no particular reason to prefer either, though I think the majority would prefer 2: this may be because of the proverb "Laughter is the best medicine". 3 is definitely preferable to 4, as we do not use the gerund where the verb-as-noun describes the activity.

  1. Make laughing a habit. <- refers to activity
  2. Make laughter a habit. <- refers to product
  3. Make exercise a habit. <- could refer to activity or product
  4. Make exercising a habit. <- refers to activity
0

Since it comes from the verb, laughing describes the action. When one laughs, the outcome is laughter or a laugh.

Consider this: "I hear laughter" and "I hear laughing."

The first describes you hearing the sound, the second that your hear someone who laughs. Hence, the focus of the gerund is a little bit more on the action than the result.

Although I guess it's fuzzy with laugher, since the noun also entails the act of laughing.

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/laughter

The same is with the excercise. Excercising focuses more on the actual doing than the inclusion of excercises in your habits.

0

They are all correct. 2 and 3 are better. I think it will be clearer to you with the following examples:

Laughter is good for you. Laughter is the best medicine.

Exercise is good for you. Regular exercise can help prevent fractures as you age.

2
  • I don't understand how the examples you provided help clarify the situation. What makes "Laughter is good for you." better than "Laughing is good for you"?
    – ColleenV
    Oct 10 '16 at 13:22
  • @ColleenV - I couldn't think of a reason, other than that these are set phrases which are very commonly used. If you can think of a reason, I'm all ears.
    – J. Doe
    Oct 10 '16 at 14:31

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