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I've read in a http://portlandenglish.edu/blog/how-to-use-being-and-having-as-gerunds/ that When we use the gerund “being” plus an adjective, a preposition, or a noun, we are talking about experience or condition. The website explains as follows:

Here are some examples using “being” with an adjective, a preposition, and a noun:

Being stuck in between two people is uncomfortable. [ Being + adjective ]

Being on an airplane is uncomfortable. [ Being + prepositional phrase]

Being an airline passenger is uncomfortable. [ Being + noun ]

In each of these cases, the person is complaining about the experience or condition.

If you want to make the situation negative. just add “not” in front of the gerund:

Not being comfortable makes the trip feel longer. [ Not + Being + adjective ]

I am happy not being on an airplane. [ Not + Being + prepositional phrase]

Not being an airline passenger is better for me. I prefer to drive. [ Not + Being + noun ]

My question: can I use "To be" and "not to be" in the place of "being" and not "being" in above sentences without changing the meaning of them? I want to know why "being" has been used in above sentences instead of using "To be" to show "experience or condition" ?

what would be the meaning of these sentences If I used "To be" in the place of "being" in above sentences ?

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You're in the same situation here as you would be in other situations where you can use either a gerund or infinitive.

This is a pretty good heuristic/rule to follow for the difference between gerunds and infinitives (reference):

  • Gerunds are best for use in sentences about actions that are real or complete, or that have been completed.

  • Infinitives are best for use in sentences about actions that are unreal or abstract, or that will occur in the future.

So, the infinitive will refer to an anticipated experience, whereas the gerund will refer to an existing or past experience.

I am happy not being on an airplane. (You would say this while you are on the trip, not traveling on an airplane.)

I am happy not to be on an airplane. (You would say this before you left your trip, possibly as a hint to someone that you don't want to travel on an airplane.)

  • Lawrence C. Do the meaning change if I use 'To be' in the place of 'being' in above sentences? – yubraj Oct 29 '16 at 20:24
  • Yep. I just picked one as an example. – LawrenceC Oct 29 '16 at 20:41
  • what would be the meaning of above sentences If I used "To be" in the place of "being" in above sentences ? – yubraj Oct 29 '16 at 21:01
  • You could use the infinitive instead of the gerund with no change in meaning, but in most such sentences we would use the gerund. We would use the infinitive for speculative and future events, or unreal things: It would be uncomfortable to be stuck between two people. – P. E. Dant Oct 29 '16 at 21:48
  • @yubrajsharma my answer tells you, read it carefully. – LawrenceC Oct 29 '16 at 21:56

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