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Is keeping track a gerund in the sentence?

  1. Readers will have little trouble keeping track of them.

If keeping track is a gerund, does that mean that we could also use an infinitive instead with no change in meaning or acceptability?

  1. Readers will have little trouble to keep track of them?
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    I would say that it is a verb, for two reasons. Firstly it has a subject since the readers are doing the keeping track and secondly you can't, in this context, apply an article to it. If you change the sentence structure to "Readers will have little trouble with the keeping track of them" the 'keeping' becomes a gerund. However that structure is not commonly used. The use of the infinitive 'to keep' is not appropriate in this case.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 14:05
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    It doesn't matter. All you need to know is that it is a verb. Nowadays. we lump both ing verb forms together, simply calling them 'gerund-participles'
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 15:23
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    If it were a gerund, it would be the subject or the object, and this is neither. Commented Nov 6, 2022 at 15:57
  • @BoldBen The readers are keeping track? The readers are having little trouble.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 15:34
  • @Lambie Good point, but if they are having little trouble then they are keeping track.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 18:26

2 Answers 2

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Regardless of the form of "keeping track", the structure is [ "have trouble" + verb-"ing" ], so no, it cannot be replaced by an infinitive.

Further, it's not the case that infinitives can generally replace gerunds. And in places where the grammar is still good, the meaning is often different.

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You should always try and make a sentence with the gerund phrase to see if it works:

Keeping track of answers is not easy.

Does that work? Answer: Yes, it does. It means the activity of keeping track of something will be easy.

Compare that to:

You must make a big effort to keep track of answers. You must make a big effort for the purpose of keeping track of answers.

The to-infinitive shows purpose or necessity or some goal or other or why something is done.

If you use: Readers will have little trouble to keep track of them (for the purpose of keeping track of them) with the new system. (For example).

The purpose pointed to is the new system.

The two are grammatical but they would not mean the same thing exactly.

Here's a useful overview of to-infinitives:

Collins_to infinitive

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