In this sentence, I would prefer to say to remove instead of the gerund removing.

The only way to save its life was removing the infected leg.

I can't tell why but just strongly feel it's better to use "to remove". Is my doubt worth supporting?

  • 1
    ...was removing gives me a flair of the leg being removed. to remove merely gives me an idea (though very true) to remove the leg.
    – Maulik V
    Feb 17, 2014 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


Perhaps to remove sounds better to you because the preposition helps the sentence flow better. If so, you could consider:

The only way to save its life was by removing the infected leg.

Otherwise, you could rearrange the sentence, like this:

Removing the infected leg was the only way to save its life.

I find that a many sentences starting out with an expression like:

The one thing we had to do was...
The best solution was...

end up sounding a little awkward in the middle. Oftentimes, it reads better if we say:

Moving forward was the one thing we had to do.
Rearranging the sentence was the best solution.

  • In this sentence, is it better to suggest a possible future solution by using an inffinitive? "Was to remove the infected leg" sounds more of something being about to happen or being about to be chosen,but hasn't happen or been chosen yet.
    – dennylv
    Feb 18, 2014 at 1:20
  • @denny - No. If the leg hasn't been amputated yet, we'd say: "The only way to save its life is by removing the infected leg" (or, "Removing the infected leg is the only way to save its life").
    – J.R.
    Feb 18, 2014 at 11:02

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