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David stopped to talk to me

John stopped talking to me

The explanation given in the material supplied by The English and Foreign Languages is like this.

David stopped on the way so that he could talk to me.

John stopped talking to me so he and I are not on talking terms now.

In reality most of the students understood as in John's example.

Do non-native speakers of English who are not advanced find the difference between the two sentences like the native speakers unless explained?

Some of the English teachers I know could not tell the difference.

This is not a duplicate of the previous question.I saw it just now.It seems to be a duplicate but I taught this to my students and some teachers too.They could not find the difference easily.

Is really a difference between the two or it may mean the same to non-native speakers who are not advanced learners?

  • I think it would be helpful to tell us what you think and why to help us help you discern the difference. What do you think they mean and why? – Em. Oct 18 '19 at 20:24
  • Some non-native speakers speak English very well, some speak it very poorly. To people who don't know English well, the sentences may seem to have the same meaning. But what are you really asking? People who don't know English well might make all kinds of mistakes. – Juhasz Oct 18 '19 at 20:39
  • This is not meant for the most advanced and the scholars.I keep in mind the learners and and not so advanced learners – successive suspension Oct 18 '19 at 20:48
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    Note that this is very unusual: "David stopped so that he wanted to talk to me." It should be either "David stopped [doing something - walking, cleaning, driving, etc.] so that he could talk to me" OR "David stopped because he wanted to talk to me." Furthermore, it is ambiguous. Did David stop doing something - walking, driving, talking to his wife - to talk to you, or did David stop by your house to talk to you? – AIQ Oct 18 '19 at 21:14
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The two sentences are different. The first is incomplete.

The first sentence means that David stopped doing something to talk to you. The second means that John no longer talks to you.


Your first sentence, and its given meaning

"David stopped [?] to talk to me." - David stopped so that he wanted to talk to me.

seem incomplete to me. There is something missing - it can be either of these:

(a) David was on his way to work. He stopped by [your house] to talk to you.

(b) David was perhaps eating, running, driving, or mowing the lawn. You waived at him. He stopped [the action] to talk to you.

Perhaps, the absence of "doing something" or "by" after "stopped" indicated to them that the sentence was saying that David stopped talking to you. They might have thought that "to talk" was an error in writing and that it should have been "talking"; that would make both sentences identical.

"David stopped talking to me." = "John stopped talking to me."


Note that this is very unusual:

"David stopped so that he wanted to talk to me."

It should either be

"David stopped [doing something - walking, cleaning, driving, etc.] so that he could talk to me"

or

"David stopped [...] because he wanted to talk to me."


You asked

  1. Do non-native speakers of English who are not advanced find the difference between the two sentences like the native speakers unless explained?
  2. Is [there] really a difference between the two or [do they] mean the same to non-native speakers who are not advanced learners?

both of which, in my opinion, cannot be answered without conducting a poll here. Even if a poll was carried out, the number of non-native participants in ELL would not make a proper representative sample of the non-native population.

Also, it would help if you defined "non-native speakers who are not advanced learners". Who is an advanced non-native learner - a non-native who went to an English medium school (with English curriculum) for 12 years? Or a non-native who immigrated to US and has been living there for 30 years?

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    I was the first to upvote your comment under the question, but I am not sure I agree with the point you raised about "He stopped to talk to me" being questionable. Yes context is needed to get a fuller story, but the sentence in and of itself is perfectly grammatical and idiomatic. I don't think stop being short for "stop by a place", namely a), is a possible/common interpretation. – Eddie Kal Oct 18 '19 at 22:57
  • @EddieKal Yes I agree - I did not say it was not grammatical or idiomatic. I just said it was ambiguous. I was stressing that sentence could mean that David either stopped doing something as the person approached him to talk to him, or that David stopped by the person's house. "stop" is not a common interpretation for "stop by" - as you say - and that is why I said the first sentence is incomplete. – AIQ Oct 18 '19 at 23:01
  • @EddieKal I think my writing was not clear. I edited my wording. – AIQ Oct 18 '19 at 23:08

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