Can I change the gerund in the following sentence: "Being an activist means using your voice" to the infinitive? That is, the sentence would look like: "To be an activist means using your voice."

I only found out that we need a gerund after mean to have the right sense


1 Answer 1


Yes, with two caveats:

  1. You should also say to use to match the tense. (Native speakers sometimes fail to match these, but I believe we'd mostly all judge it to be an error if asked.)

  2. The meaning is not quite the same. The gerund construction can have the meaning: "If you are an activist, you are expected to use your voice"; that is, it expresses a sense of duty. But the infinitive is a definition; it expresses an equivalence. I would say they're close enough and there's enough overlap in the pragmatic force of the statements that in real life a person might use either one for either meaning, but on reflection in an edited piece, they would probably restrict them to these uses.

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