There is a very small difference in meaning between the two forms. The -ing form emphasises the action or experience. The to-infinitive gives more emphasis to the results of the action or event. We often use the -ing form to suggest enjoyment (or lack of it), and the to-infinitive form to express habits or preferences. Cambridge Dictionary

I couldn't understand what they mean by "emphasises the action" and "emphasis to the results". as example, which of the following sentence is correct?

  • I don't like surprises. I like knowing things in advance.

  • I don't like surprises. I like to know things in advance.


2 Answers 2


As the link you quoted says, it is a very small difference. It's not really a difference in meaning, but in implication. Try this example:

I like eating ice cream.

Emphasises the action or experience

This implies that the act of eating is most enjoyable. The action of eating it is the best part of the experience.

I like to eat ice cream.

More emphasis to the results

This indicates that the ice cream itself is the best part. As in, the result of having ice cream in you is what you enjoy!

Don't worry about the difference too much when you are speaking. In casual conversation, they are pretty much interchangeable.


I like knowing things in advance.

I like to know things in advance.

Both the sentences have the same meaning. You can use here either the gerund phrase "knowing things in advance" or the infinitive phrase "to know things in advance" to indicate your choice or habit. Both the phrases function as the direct object.

However, the second sentence with the infinitive phrase is more common.

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