Could someone please tell me what it's wrong to use the infinitive instead the gerund in these examples? Why Can't I do this? To me is sounds better with the infinitive.

"Thieves broke into the house, but didn0t take anything. There was nothing worth to steal.

"I had no trouble to find a place to stay."

"Did you have a problem to get a visa?"

  • 2
    There is no general rule. Every verb has its own list of requirements, permissions, and prohibitions in terms of what its subject and object can be. Worth takes gerund complements, and not infinitives; it's not a matter of logic or sounding good. That's just how worth is, and no other word is exactly the same. Trouble and problem both take gerund complements as well. – John Lawler Feb 27 '20 at 22:40

The infinitive is more abstract than the gerund.

Given a verb X, if the following applies:

  • X can or can't happen

  • X has or hasn't happened

  • someone's going through a process to make X happen.

X is a real thing and not abstract.

If you're expressing something like you wish or want X, or talking about the nature of X, the infinitive is used.

There was nothing worth stealing (You actually looked)

I had no trouble finding a place to stay (finding is something you actually did)

I want to find a place to stay (X in want to X is abstract until you get it)

Did you have a problem getting a visa (You went through the process to get a visa)

  • Hi, thank you for your help, but unfortunately I didn't understand what you mean. – ilMagnifico Feb 27 '20 at 22:17

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