Which of the following sentence choices is correct? I guess both are. But is there a difference between them?

The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him friend.

The best way to destroy your enemy is by making him friend.

  • NGrams tells me proceed is the most common verb in the context of the best way to [verb] is... And this chart shows that the infinitive (your first example) is far more common. Idiomatically your second example is "okay" - but note that with, say, the best thing [to do] is XXX you can't use preposition by + -ing – FumbleFingers Aug 17 '17 at 14:08
  • @FumbleFingers - Please, that's an answer, not a comment. – J.R. Aug 17 '17 at 14:10
  • @J.R.: I don't think so. I specifically put scare quotes round "okay" when talking about the (continuous participle? gerund?) usage in the second example because I don't know whether there's some grammatical reason why it's less favoured. That's why I added the point about how acceptability apparently changes with a different "subject noun" (a thing rather than a way) - I don't know why that is, so I was kinda hoping someone else might enlighten me as well as OP. – FumbleFingers Aug 17 '17 at 14:16
  • @FumbleFingers - Okay, fair enough. – J.R. Aug 17 '17 at 14:26
  • @J.R.: I think the "complex/compound subject" in the example might be throwing me off a bit - it makes the second example sound more acceptable than it would in, say, The way to win is by scoring more points than your opponent (where ...is to score more points seems far more "natural/correct"). – FumbleFingers Aug 17 '17 at 14:34

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