"All we have to do is stop hunting endangered spices....." I had been thinking that, this sentence has no problem at all and seems so natural. But suddenly as I come across that " is + verb + gerund" again, I'm little confused because there should be a gerund or noun, instead. Is "stop hunting" part considered as clause or something? I feel like I'm lost.

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    The sentence is fine. "Stop hunting endangered species" is a clause within which is the embedded clause "hunting endangered species" as complement of "stop" with "endangered species" as object. In other words, it's a clause within a clause. The verb "stop" freely takes participial ing clauses as complement. (cf. "please stop eating in class")
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 10:10
  • @BillJ The complement(Hunting..), is it a gerund or active participle? Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 10:54
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    Some people would call it a gerund. But many people no longer distinguish gerund and present participle, and would simply call it a gerund-participle. So "hunting endangered species" is a gerund-participial clause as complement to the verb "stop".
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 10:58
  • The clause "hunting endangered species" is called a catenative complement clause.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 16:56
  • Did you mean"endangered spices" or "endangered species"?
    – Jasper
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 2:08

2 Answers 2


I don't care much about terminology as such, but in the context of OP's example there are two possible interpretations - which you might find it helpful to distinguish between by calling them "true verb" and "gerund" usages. It might also help to consider things using a slightly different sentence...

The Prime Minister promised to stop hunting foxes.

If we understand hunting there as a verb usage (syntactically, the most likely situation), the implied subject of the verb is the PM (i.e. - he promised that he will no longer engage in hunting himself).

If we understand it as a gerund usage, it refers to fox-hunting as an activity (by implication, carried out by other unspecified people), which is semantically the most likely intended meaning. The PM promised that he will stop/prevent other people (everyone) from indulging in the practice (i.e. - he will ban fox-hunting).

In OP's exact context, it's really a matter of opinion which interpretation to apply. Probably the advice isn't specifically addressed to the relatively small number of people who actually do hunt endangered species (it's highly unlikely the writer includes himself in that group, which would be implied by the use of we).

The most natural interpretation is that the writer is using we to mean humankind in general, and that he's advising "us" collectively to stop / cease / abstain / refrain from hunting (i.e. - each of us should voluntarily change our behaviour if we we are hunters).

The "contrived" interpretation is that we're being urged to act collectively to bring an end to such hunting (by voting in politicians who will introduce laws to ban the practice, perhaps).

  • I have a hunch that the OP's problem may not exactly be about hunting, but rather stop itself. Something like, wouldn't we normally say All we have to do is something? Why is it not stopping but the bare form of stop is used instead? Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 16:01
  • @Damkerng T. OP says he's confused because there should be a gerund or noun, and he's clearly asking about the specific component stop hunting, which strongly implies he needs help parsing that element. But I see nothing to suggest that he's asking why we say All we have to do is stop rather than All we have to do is stopping. There's also the matter of deletion of repeated elements, in that a more "complete" version would be All we have to do is to stop (or even All we have to do is we have to stop), but I don't see that as central here either. Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 16:13
  • Note that I'm not particularly interested in the specific word hunting above. I kept it because that was OP's starting point, but I just changed the context slightly to make it easier to illustrate my point about possible alternative syntactic roles for the element following stop. Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 16:17

Verb+Gerund also functions as a infinitive clause, it has no explanation, just that there are some verbs that -ing will always replace 'to', and it's obligatory, it's a rule, here are some verbs that don't take the preposition 'to' but the '-ing'.

Stop -

He stopped looking at me as soon as I turned around

Start -

He started talking to me although I didn't even know him

Advise -

I advise her drinking more tea

Admit -

The thief admitted breaking into the house

Avoid -

I have avoided talking to her

Begin -

I began learning English.

More examples, you can check out this list containing all the verbs that must be followed by gerund:


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    In American English, "I advised her to drink more tea" and "I advise drinking more tea" are natural, but "I advise her drinking more tea" is not.
    – Jasper
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 16:21
  • @Jasper: It depends. What should my son do, Doctor? Have them out now, or later? --I advise him having his wisdom teeth out over winter break. Not elegant, but certainly possible. The paraphrase: My advice to you, Mrs. Jones, is that he should have his wisdom teeth out over winter break.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 19:43
  • Neither of those two sounds right to me. Commented May 24, 2018 at 8:00

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