To infinitive and gerund can be an object of the verb teach?

I wonder if these sentences are grammatically correct or incorrect and reasons.

1) I teach you to speak English.

2) I teach you speaking English.

3) I teach to speak English to you.

4) I teach speaking English to you.

I really wonder please let me know.


2 Answers 2


For what I assume is the intended sense, OP's example #1 is the most natural alternative:

1) I teach you [how] to speak English

But the second version doesn't have that meaning:

2) I teach you speaking English.

In principle that could make sense if we interpret it as meaning I speak in English while teaching you [something, not necessarily how you should speak English]. Or at a stretch we could interpret "speaking English" as a noun phrase equivalent to "spoken English", but that's a rather non-standard usage.

Example #3 is simply ungrammatical. There's not much more to say about it.

Example #4 is syntactically "valid", but if the teacher was any good at his job that's probably not how he would phrase it. He'd probably use the format of example #1 anyway, but if he wanted to focus on the actual subject (the spoken language), as opposed to the goal (that you learn to speak English), he's more likely say:

5) I teach you spoken English

(Note that this version more strongly implies I only teach spoken English, not the written form.)


You teach someone to do something.

He is teaching you to speak English.

to here refers to a purpose, a reason.

If you teach something, you can say:

I teach English. I teach sailing. [the activity of sailing a boat] I am teaching them to speak English.

However, we would not say: I am teaching speaking unless it refers to public speaking, the activity.

I teach public speaking to business people.

The ing forms in your example refer to the activity of teaching, and there we just use the nouns: I teach math or I teach Chinese.

If you want to say to teach someone spoken as opposed to written English, you can say:

I teach English conversation classes.

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