Both of them may be grammatically correct. But which one sounds more natural, or is there any subtle differences between them? Thank you!

  1. It helps me to be productive in reading books.

  2. It helps me to be productive in book reading.

2 Answers 2


Example 1 seems to emphasize the verb form, meaning the action of reading. To be productive in reading would seem to be discussing the volume of material read or the successful decoding of the letters into words and phrases.

Example 2 seems to emphasize the noun form, meaning 'book reading' in the sense of some kind of category. Productive book reading could be discussing volume of material read, but would more likely be directed at the qualitative aspect of book reading. So productive book reading would seem to have a sense of discussing reading comprehension as compared and contrasted to volume of material covered.


To me it feels a little strange to describe book reading as "productive." But if I trade that phrase for one that sounds more "productive"—say, mowing the lawn, I think the first example sounds slightly more natural. But neither sounds unnatural.

It helps me to be productive in mowing the lawn.

It helps me to be productive in lawn mowing.

The second example—no matter whether it's book reading or lawn mowing or house cleaning or what—sounds a bit like you're describing an industry. "Productive in book reading" sounds a bit like you are in the business of book reading, and your output is good. Even more so with things that better fit the term "productive," such as lawn mowing or house cleaning.

The first example sounds a bit more like it's something that you are doing personally, and you're satisfied with how much you're accomplishing.

But that distinction is indeed subtle. There's not a lot of difference in meaning between the two. I would expect context to have more effect on it than the specific wording, either way.

  • From reading books makes more sense, although you have to fill in some of the blanks, as in, It's difficult for me to achieve productive results just by applying the information I learn from reading books.
    – Andrew
    Mar 7, 2018 at 16:41

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