A lot of people prefer to eat fried chicken with their fingers.

A lot of people prefer eating fried chicken with their fingers

A lot of people eat fried chicken with their fingers.

What do these sentences mean?

  • we eat with hand or fingers? :) – Maulik V Aug 4 '14 at 7:00
  • 1
    Fingers. We have finger food but not hand food. – snailplane Aug 4 '14 at 7:31

The first two mean the same thing: those people choose to eat fried chicken with their fingers/hands.

The last sentence means the same thing but it talks more about an observation (and thus is a 'statement') whereas the first two sentences talk about their choice as if they were specially asked how do they prefer eating the dish.

About the verb prefer, I think it's better with the infinite following it.

A lot of people prefer to eat fried chicken...

The verb pattern decides what goes after a verb. Some take infinitives (for example, agree), some take gerunds (for instance, mind) and some take both (for instance like).

There is a list here and the verb in question, prefer, is mentioned as taking an infinitive.

Note: I also found prefer taking a gerund, for example here (prefer doing...) and on other news sites which means both are okay and used in practice.

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  • @snailplane thanks for your valuable edits. I learn each time you do that. – Maulik V Aug 4 '14 at 8:29

I think it just like following: I like to play basketball. I like playing basketball. I play basketball.

If some one ask you What are you going to do today? you have two choices. one is to play guitar, and another is to play basketball. You maybe play guitar every day and like doing it, but today you are going to play basketball. So you will tell your friend that today I like to play basketball. If your friend ask you what is your favorite and you do every day. you will say I like playing basket ball.

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