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To me, they both can be used as a noun, and can be modified by others to add further information needed or to just complement. however, I believe there are some nuance should not be ignored,especially when at the beginning of a sentence. here I make up two simple sentences as example and leave my following thought about it below:

1, to fix the ventilation system is such a daunting job that nobody wants to do.

personally,I feel this has such a connotation that conveys : to fix the ventilation system(this refers more to a job at a time) is such a daunting job that nobody wants to do(nobody willing to,at least for this time).

2,fixing the ventilation system is such a daunting job that nobody wants to do.

fixing the ventilation system(refers more to the process,no matter how many times) is such a daunting job that nobody wants to do(they don't want this because the process of fixing it is always undesired).

I might as well be wrong then,can someone please help me and explain a little more detail about the secret behind this two forms.

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    "to fix the ventilation system is such a daunting job" doesn't sound idiomatic to this US English speaker. Only the fixing version sounds natural to me.
    – stangdon
    Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 14:16
  • @stangdon I also find it not so natural,but as long as it's grammatically correct,I just wanted to create them of similar structure so it's easy to be compared the difference. Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 14:35
  • There should be an it after do. That's one complication. Another is that verbs vary in whether they allow infinitives or gerunds as subjects; some don't, some allow one or the other, and some allow either. Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 20:56

2 Answers 2

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You may well be right that the flavor of “to fix” suggests the complete task whereas the flavor of “fixing” suggests the process. The reason is that present participles are used to form progressive tenses. However, not one native speaker in a hundred would consciously make that distinction, and it is certainly not a rule on which you might rely.

To fix the ventilation system is so onerous that no one wants to do it.

The “it” is needed as it is in

Fixing the ventilation system is so onerous that no one wants to do it.

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  • so basically they're interchangeable? like when I want to say:"stopping at a red light is a wiser choice for you" ,my mind simultaneously tells me"no no,this time I'll go for"to stop",now replace it",so I say:"to stop at a red light is a wiser choice for you"instead after all. Does it make sense or still some contexts depend? Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 15:04
  • They are interchangeable in meaning. The infinitive is a more formal register. Commented Sep 7, 2022 at 15:11
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In this context, as subject of a sentence, both are possible. However, in other contexts, the word that governs the clause often requires one or other; for example want requires a to-infinitive clause, instead of requires an -ing clause.

Having said that, I think the to-infinitive is less common in this context, and one reason may be that there is a risk of misunderstanding, because to- infinitive clauses are often used as purpose clauses. So when we hear a sentence beginning To fix the ventilation system we may already have interpreted that as a purpose clause, and expect the rest of the sentenwe hear the is.

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