I asked Google: Way of doing or way to do? On one website, somebody quoted The Collins Cobuild English Usage (p765) as saying:

You can talk about a way of doing something or a way to do it. There is no difference in meaning. Note that if you use a possessive with way, you must use 'of' and an 'ing' form after it. You do not use a 'to' infinitive: They are part of the author's way of telling his story.

However, online Oxford dictionary says:

1(one's way) One's characteristic or habitual manner of behaviour or expression.

‘it was not his way to wait passively for things to happen’

Oxford's example uses a possessive with to-do. I thought maybe both sources are correct, and that the rule applies only when way means a method (as in Collins example) and not when it means a habit, nature or manner of behavious ( as in Oxford). But then I thought "will it be ok to say: This is God's way to help you?". And now I'm not sure about anything :)

1 Answer 1


My short answer is that Collins may be citing a rule of style, but it reflects neither grammar nor common usage.

"My way to make pies is to visit the baker" and "My way of making pies is to visit the baker" are equivalent in meaning and equally acceptable.

  • As this NGram makes abundantly clear, the Collins "rule, principle" does accurately reflect common usage. I won't say your first example is non-grammatical, but it's certainly "unusual, uncommon". Nov 30, 2017 at 15:29
  • And as this Ngram shows, you cannot really rely on ngram for such things. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – TimR
    Nov 30, 2017 at 15:46

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