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What is the exact difference in the meaning and the grammar between

"The quickest way of contacting the police station is to use your cellphone"

and

"The quickest way to contact the police station is to use your cellphone"

I got the following answer (by A. Galloway ) in response to a specific question.

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the following answer (by A. Galloway )

English is notorious for using the -ing ending (which normally denotes something being done in the present progressive tense) in place if the verb's infinitive form. The sentence would most accurately be read as:

The quickest way of contacting the police station is to use your cellphone."

=

"The quickest way to contact the police station is to use your cellphone."

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I have not yet been able to distinguish between "of ~ ing" and "to infinitive" at all. If these sentences have the exact same meaning, I would appreciate it if you could give me a lot of examples.

  • Why must there be a difference? I like to answer ELL questions = I like answering ELL questions. :) – Andrew Jul 25 '17 at 3:19
  • There may be some differences in where each form can be used (if I could come up with a list of them I would write a proper answer), but there is no difference in meaning at all between the two sentences in your question. – hobbs Jul 25 '17 at 3:35
  • The sentence could as easily be "The quickest way to contact the police station is using your cellphone". There is more often a difference in usage than in meaning. Have you tried searching this very site for the phrase "gerund or infinitive"? Type gerund or infinitive in the "Search Q&A" field and press "enter". There are scores of questions. Have you studied the gerund in English? – P. E. Dant Jul 25 '17 at 3:44
  • I learned about gerund and infinitive. I learned about the difference between gerund and infinitive. However, in gerund and infinitive used in many English sentences, there seems to be something I can not understand the difference. I know very simple Korean sentences that foreigners never understand. Even though there are obvious differences, Koreans explain that there is no difference for foreigners. If the words are different, I think it will be different also in English – user22046 Jul 25 '17 at 4:02
  • Why do you think English is any different than Korean? The difference is that now you are the "foreigner"! There is no "exact" difference in meaning, but there are many differences in usage. Sometimes the meanings are quite different: consider "He'll never forget spending that much" and "He'll never forget to spend that much". There is no rule to follow. You have to learn the differences one by one, usage by usage, verb by verb. – P. E. Dant Jul 25 '17 at 4:02
1
  1. "The quickest way of contacting the police station is to use your cellphone"

  2. "The quickest way to contact the police station is to use your cellphone"

There is no difference in meaning between 1 and 2 but 2 is preferred and less awkward.

As far as differences:

  1. He stopped smoking.
  2. He stopped to smoke.

4 means: 'He stopped walking, then started smoking'. 3 means he stopped smoking for the rest of his life.

  • 1
    How do we know he stopped smoking for the rest of his life? I believe he stopped smoking only until leaving the restaurant, after being told by a waiter to extinguish his cigarette. How do we know he was walking? I'm sure he was swimming. – P. E. Dant Jul 25 '17 at 3:50
  • Can we descirbe "He stopped smoking" as "He stopped of smoking" ? Can we describe "He stopped to smoke" as "He stopped for smoking" ? IF so, does "He stopped of smoking" and "He stopped to smoke" have a different meaning? IF so, does "of + ~ing" and " to infinitive" have a different meaning in some cases ? In some cases, "of + ing" and "to infinitive" have the same meaning, and in some cases "of + ing" and "to infinitive" mean different? – user22046 Jul 25 '17 at 5:54

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