I've just read another question, “more than pack” or “more than packing”, and it made me curious. The reason of my curiosity is that even though I prefer the phrase

"... finds sugar does more than just pack on the pounds.",

the other alternative

"... finds sugar does more than just packing on the pounds."

doesn't sound utterly wrong to me. (I think does is really tricky here.)

So I would like to simplify it a little and ask: which one of the following sentences is correct?

He does more than just fool around.
He does more than just fooling around.

1 Answer 1


I think the confusion comes in when we consider that "fool/fooling around" takes its rules from the type of clause we are using.

As you know, when a verb is the subject of a sentence, it is used in "-ing" form.

Fooling around is what he does.

The adding of "-ing" is also common practice for forming nouns from verbs.

When a verb is the subordinate clause of a sentence, we modify it accordingly (in this case an infinitive stem):

What he does is fool around.

So I feel like your two sentences are us applying the two rules above, but ordering our sentences differently. Your first example is like a list of "what he does":

He does more than just fool around, eat food and lift weights.

Whereas your second uses a verb masquerading as a noun:

He does more than just fooling around and playing football

So, in summary, I think both are correct, but the first sounds more natural to me, since you are listing "what he does" as subordinate clauses (He does play, he does lift weights), and sometimes, verbs employed as nouns can sound a little false/forced:

He does nothing but reading books

Sounds (and is) entirely incorrect, whereas

He does nothing but read books

Carries the agreement from "does".

  • 3
    I think you've summed it up well. I thought of these two examples: "He does more than just drive a truck" and "There is more to his job than just driving a truck." In that case, you can't swap the drive and driving.
    – J.R.
    Feb 5, 2014 at 14:26
  • In fact, I'm more and more confused. "What he does is fool around.","What he does is to fool around." or "What he does is fooling around.", which is right? I only feel that the last two sentences sound more comfortable to me.
    – Searene
    Feb 5, 2014 at 14:28
  • What he does is fool around. That's how I would say it. But He does more than just fooling around sounds – how would can I say this – not egregrious?
    – J.R.
    Feb 5, 2014 at 15:17
  • @MarkZar: as far as i'm concerned, only the first of your examples is correct, strangely enough.
    – BobRodes
    Feb 5, 2014 at 15:32
  • I agree with @BobRodes. Only the first is correct.
    – JMB
    Feb 5, 2014 at 21:34

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