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I am writing a description for a video. I want to know which of the following is more correct:

  1. The next step is to define the cross section of the member.

  2. The next step is define the cross section of the member

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Number 1 is correct because you want to use it as an infinitive verb. Here is a brief explanation with some examples:

There are several possible ways to use infinitive verbs. You can use them:

  1. as the subject of a sentence – To err is human; to forgive, divine.
  2. like an adjective or adverb phrase that expresses purpose or intent – My instructions are to press this button every hour.
  3. following an indirect object – He told me to give this to you.
  4. following certain other verbs - source
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  • Need more explanation. "Define" is also an infinitive, and (2) is technically correct but unusual. The web site linked to under "source" is strange: it doesn't explain "infinitive", even in the section titled "Defining an Infinitive Verb". – Ben Kovitz Jun 15 '17 at 10:41
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Number 1 is correct. The only way you can make 2 correct is if you were reading a list of instructions such as:

  1. Get milk.
  2. Get eggs.

And then the person reads the list and says: "Step one is 'get milk', step two is 'get eggs'".

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#1 is correct. #2 could be correct if you change "define" to "defining". "Defining" is a gerund noun, and a noun works fine here.

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