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Way and step

I happened to read some sentences containing phrases with two similar forms such as

Subject Verb to Verb...

and

Subject Verb to Verb-ing...

I come up examples for each.

"I find ways to increase my enjoyment in study."

And

"I find ways to increasing my enjoyment in study."

In what situations each one is correct?

Any explanation in meanings?

*How about the other word "step"?

I take steps to increase my enjoyment in study.

and

I take steps to increasing my enjoyment in study.

A similar example:

Steps to overcoming obstacles

Steps to overcoming obstacles

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  • 2
    Both of your second options are wrong. We can say ways of increasing but not steps of or steps to increasing. Apr 30, 2022 at 8:54
  • "Steps to overcoming obstacles" is from a book which I currently read. I am quite surprised. Apr 30, 2022 at 12:57
  • 1
    This is interesting. I think the explanation is that steps to overcoming obstacles uses step in the sense of 'a stage in a process', while take steps has the specific meaning of 'do what is necessary', so their grammatical functions are different. Apr 30, 2022 at 13:08
  • @KateBunting I added the souce of "steps to overcoming obstacle". Apr 30, 2022 at 23:10
  • 2
    Which shows a drawing of actual steps. Take it from me, I take steps to increasing my enjoyment in study is not idiomatic English. May 1, 2022 at 7:57

1 Answer 1

2
  1. I find ways to increase my enjoyment in study. Green Check indicating acceptable form

This is a fully grammatical use, which a fluent speaker should understand. Such a speaker might be more likely to say "I have found way..." or "I am finding ways..." but there is nothing with sentence 1.

  1. I find ways to increasing my enjoyment in study. Red X indicating an incorrect form

This is not grammatical, or at least is not natural. The form "to increasing" is not used in this construction. "increasing" indicates a process, and so does not fit "I find ways to..." (Increasing cvan also indicate a direction, as "the prices are increasing" but it still does not fit in sentence 2.)

  1. I take steps to increase my enjoyment in study. Green Check indicating acceptable form

This, like sentence 1, is fully grammatical. A fluent speaker would understand and might well say sentence 3.

  1. I take steps to increasing my enjoyment in study. Red X indicating an incorrect form

This has much the same problem as sentence 2. "to increasing" is still not used in this construction, and the change from "find ways" to "take steps" does not alter that.

  1. Steps to overcoming obstacles Green Check indicating acceptable form

This could be short for

5A. Here are some steps to overcoming obstacles. Green Check indicating acceptable form

The participle "overcoming" can accept this "to-form" while "increasing" cannot. I find it hard to spell out a reason for this in the form of a concise rule. Perhaps someone else could do so.

  1. Here are some steps for increasing enjoyment in study Green Check indicating acceptable form

by changing the preposition from "to" to "for" and taking the sentence out of the first person, sentence 4 becomes acceptable. A similar transformation on sentence 2 yields:

  1. Here are some ways for increasing enjoyment in study Green Check indicating acceptable form
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  • Examples 5 up to 7 are perfect. May 4, 2022 at 9:46
  • Define "perfect". As this usage chart clearly shows, native speaker almost always choose to refer to ways to improve things rather than ways for improving things. Just because no-one wants to rule it out on syntactic grounds doesn't imply the latter form is even "any good", let alone "perfect". May 4, 2022 at 16:28
  • @FumbleFingers I claim only that examples 5A to 7 are grammatically valid, would be understood by a fluent speaker, and not thought particularly odd by such a speaker, not that they are favored by such speakers in general. May 4, 2022 at 16:33
  • David: Indeed. My only intended response to your actual Answer text here was the upvote itself. I just didn't think it was a good idea to let @Stats Cruncher's "erroneous / questionable" assertion stand. We wouldn't necessarily think the "less favoured" form was "odd", but there's no doubt whatsoever which way most native speakers would jump if required to actually make a choice between the infinitive and continuous verb forms in such contexts. May 4, 2022 at 16:47
  • As a non-native English speak, I just take baby steps to improve on my learning outcome. May 4, 2022 at 23:20

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