1). I have no choice but to run away.

2). I have no choice but running away.

Which one is correct and Why ? If both are correct, What is the difference in meaning between these two sentences?

  • It seems this question has been asked many times.
    – brainchild
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 7:36
  • They are both correct and have the same meaning.
    – Peter
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 7:39
  • @ramteja There's no difference in meaning. The only difference is the latter is less common. Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 8:27
  • 1
    I'd say that 2) is ungrammatical since "choice" does not licence (permit) a gerund-participial (ing) clause as complement.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 8:49

1 Answer 1


It is a sentence with the coordinating conjuction but, where an independent clause "I have no choice" may join either the phrase to run away or running away.

Because the object in the independent clause is choice that is a noun and the conjunction "but" is a coordinating one, we should use a phrase functioning as a noun after but.

It may seem that both phrases, to run away and running away, could function as a noun in such a sentence in the first sight.

But, there is a semantical limitation for constructing the sentence only on the grounds mentioned. To test options, we ought to substitute the OP sentence with the sentence I have the choice+the independent phrase.

In case of running away, it functions as a relative participle phrase that modifies the subject personal pronoun "I" in the test sentence.

This test can show that to run away is the only possible option.


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