To me, both the concepts "dirtiness" and "being dirty" mean exactly the same thing and I have always used them interchangeably; but I have my doubts now whether I can switch between them whenever I want or not. To make sure, please have a look on the following self-made sentences and let me know which choice suits better in which sentence and why:

1- There was a very dirty fast food restaurant last year. Once, an undercover officer of Ministry of Health went there and asked them for a sandwich; when they were preparing the food for the officer in their quite unhygienic place, he entered their kitchen and caught them red-handed and that day the ministry closed their restaurant. You know! The ministry is obliged to do that! Aside from the fact that normally nobody likes....................... such things are detrimental for people. [the surrounding environment]

a) dirtiness
b) to be dirty

2- He rarely takes a bath! Sometimes even I think he likes......................(said as a joke) [personal hygiene]

a) dirtiness
b) to be dirty

3- He never minds whether his house is neat or not, everything is tidy or not. Also, he hardly takes a bath! I think he enjoys........................ [both personal hygiene and the surrounding environment]

a) dirtiness
b) to be dirty


The terms "dirtiness" and "being dirty" do have pretty much the same meaning, but their grammatical roles are not the same, and so they are not always interchangeable. The word "dirtiness" is a noun, while "being dirty" is a gerund phrase or verb phrase, depending on context.

In the examples from the question:

... normally nobody likes dirtiness ...

means that no one likes to have the area be in a condition of dirtiness, although it could also refer to a person not liking him- or herself to be dirty. However,

... normally nobody likes to be dirty...

means that people do not like to be dirty themselves. It does not refer to the wider environment.

I think he likes dirtiness.

implies that the person likes the general environment in a dirty condition, while

I think he likes to be dirty.

says that the person likes to be personally dirty, not the more general surroundings.

The same is true if one uses "enjoys" instead of "likes": the distinction is the same.

Bu the way, in US-English at least one does not say:

an officer of Ministry of Health

rather one says:

an officer of the Ministry of Health

the article is required in this construction


"Being dirty" is normally about your personal dirtiness, compared with the general concept.

John likes being dirty, but he doesn't like dirtiness around the house.

With "like" you can also use "to be dirty"

In the third case, this is an extension of "personal dirtiness", hence "being dirty" is more appropriate.

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