The main contribution of this paper is (proposing/to propose) a new method.

I'm confused about using gerund or infinitive in this sentence.

I searched for this sentence on the internet, but I didn't find anything that solves my problem.

Which one should I choose?

2 Answers 2


Either of these is perfectly acceptable, and there is no significant difference in meaning.

"The contribution is {gerund form} X" and "The contribution is {infinitive form} X" should be interchangeable for any verb and any value of X, without significant difference in meaning.


There's four things that can happen with this sentence. Three arrive at a the same meaning.

  • Possibility 1: Is proposing is an expression of a continuous aspect.

    • This states what the paper "is doing" right now. A speaker/writer might intend this if communicating what she believes the contribution is while he/she is reading paragraphs from it.
  • Possibility 2: Proposing is a gerund

    • This means we're talking about an activity abstractly - meaning who/what does it isn't known or important, and we don't mean the effect or result, but the actual process/activity. The paper itself talks about proposing, but isn't doing the proposing itself, nor is telling anyone specific to do it, so this is a good use case for gerund.
  • Possibility 3: To propose, the infinitive

    • Infinitives are verbs that aren't "finited" by subjects or objects. It can be used like a gerund in many cases, and it works here to mean the same thing.


  • Possibility 4: Phrasal variation of to be - to be to X.

    • To be to X is a variation of to be that is a stronger version of supposed to be X with an implication of obligation. For example, He is to be at the park at 6pm means he's supposed to be at the park at 6pm, implying he was told or obligated to be there. Unless you are writing the paper, or having it written, and wanting to make clear what the contribution's purpose is, this wouldn't apply.

You should be fine either way, but if you wish to avoid this entirely, use a noun.

The main contribution of this paper is a proposal of a new method.

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