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(Walking / To walk) on a regular basis everyday is more effective than making intense efforts once in a while.

Sometimes it is very difficult for us (non native) to understand the difference between infinitive form and gerund form, especially when they are used as 'subject'. The infinitive or infinitive phrase can indeed be the subject of the verb.

So, what is the answer? What is difference between 'walking' and 'to walk'? Why one is the answer and the other is not?

  • Both are nominal forms of the verb, and the difference is nominal :)
    – TimR
    Feb 14, 2017 at 20:03

2 Answers 2


Infinitives are typically more "abstract" than gerunds.

"Abstract" would mean things not derivable from direct experience or observation. Whether something is abstract or concrete in a given situation depends heavily on the speaker and listener and how they perceive something, so it's hard to provide definite rules. But here's a heuristic that can be used:

  • When you speak of something philosophically, you are tending to be abstract. "To love is to be human".

  • When you are comparing or giving advice, you are tending to be concrete (not abstract) because you would have had to experience or observe to know. "Walking is better than running."

So based on that walking would be preferred.


Usually there is no significant difference in meaning between these non-finite verbs. That said, they can often be used to impart differing degrees of specificity.

One potentially helpful way of distinguishing between gerunds and infinitives is to remember that a gerund usually indicates something more general while an infinitive usually indicates something more specific.

For example:

I sat there thinking about life.


I sat there to think about life.

I could certainly use either "thinking" or "to think" in this sentence, but using the infinitive to think helps me make my point that I specifically sat down to think about life.

Note this isn't a universal rule, and context will always come into play.

  • This is a great explanation, I would just like to add that using 'thinking' or 'walking' is often the more casual way to say something. This is not always the case, but usually saying 'To walk on a regular basis' is more formal than 'walking on a regular basis'.
    – Summer
    Feb 15, 2017 at 10:32

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