Do you like getting up early? (1)

Do you like to get up early? (2)

(Essential Grammar in Use)

What is the difference between the two?

I guess, in (1) I ask you whether you’re currently enjoying of getting up early. But (2) is rather difficult. It can present asking either about your futural / intentional getting up or repetition of enjoying (CGEL says to-infinitval has the meaning of ‘repetition’ but I don’t know why –– I want to get some explanation about this in CGEL, p1241).

  • I don't know where you found this in CGEL. Here's what they actually say. to+inf. "commonly involve[s] temporal projection into the future" and potentiality, whereas the -ing is commonly associated with what is current and actual. BTW they discuss verbs on liking on p. 1242, not 1241. – Alex B. Oct 19 '13 at 22:19
  • @AlexB. here is full texts on p.1242 in my book. – Listenever Oct 20 '13 at 1:01
  • Thanks, but I have my own copy - always on my desk. :) – Alex B. Oct 20 '13 at 3:01
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would say there's no significant semantic difference between OP's exact two examples, but in certain specific contexts one or the other would be more "idiomatic".

1.) If you were sitting in a hotel having an early "working breakfast", you'd be more likely to use #1 (with the meaning *"Did you like getting up early this morning?").

2.) The hotel manager wanting to know if his guest would like an early or a late breakfast the next day would be more likely to use #2 (with the meaning *"Will it suit you to get up early tomorrow morning?").

Thus, although I don't see any distinction based on "repetition", there is a distinction based on the fact that the gerund/present continuous ("Do you like doing this?") is a better choice when the person you're asking is currently doing whatever it is.


The difference becomes clearer if we change the activity from getting up early to being here...

3: Do you like being here? (normal English)
4: ?Do you like to be here? (unlikely to be said by native speakers)

Where #4 is unlikely because (as explained above) we normally use the first form when the activity being asked about is currently being performed (and usually we'd only be asking such a question if the person was in fact "here" at the time). But contrast that pair with...

5: Do you like being at home on Thanksgiving?
6: Do you like to be at home on Thanksgiving?

In this case, #5 is more likely if you're asking someone who's currently at home, on Thanksgiving Day (or very close to it). Effectively, you're asking if the person likes their current circumstances.

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