What is the difference between "I can't stand smoking" and "I can't stand to smoke"?

2 Answers 2


Oald stand, verb, no.13 meaning dislike has only the construction I can't stand smoking. "To stand" + to-infinitive is not registered. So I would say "I can't stand to smoke" is wrong. http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/stand_1?q=stand


Both sentences have the feeling that you do not like smoking or secondary smoke.

I can't stand smoking

can have two meanings:
1) You do not like to smoke
2) You do not like smoking in general (i.e. either you or other people)

I can't stand to smoke

only has one meaning, you do not like having a cigarette.

  • 1
    "I can't stand to smoke" could mean "I am not allowed to stand up and smoke" or "I literally cannot stand up and smoke".
    – Jasper
    Feb 19, 2016 at 16:42
  • The first meaning of "I can't stand smoking" is far more likely than the second meaning, because people who "can't stand smoking" are not very likely to smoke. (But the might be former smokers who now do not tolerate smoke.)
    – Jasper
    Feb 19, 2016 at 16:44
  • @Jasper I wasn't able to find a nice interpretation to the infinitive form but your explanation made it clear, thank you. As for the -ing form, stand takes a different meaning, like endure, right?
    – Schwale
    Feb 19, 2016 at 16:50
  • 1
    @Ustanak. Correct. In "I can't stand smoking", "stand" is usually short for "stand there and take it". In other words, "endure", "tolerate", or "abide".
    – Jasper
    Feb 19, 2016 at 16:55
  • A native would not say "I can't stand to smoke" to mean "I can't stand up to smoke". "Can't stand" is idiomatic here, to give it some other meaning would be a literal error only a non-native AmE speaker would make. "I am not allowed to stand up and smoke" would draw quizzical looks since few would believe such a restriction, it would probably be followed by "You mean you have to sit down?".
    – Peter
    Feb 19, 2016 at 19:44

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