To start working/to start to work

Discussion in 'English Only' started by mari78, Oct 30, 2006.

  1. mari78 Junior Member

    Italian, Italy
    Hello everybody,
    I have this doubt about the use of the verb "to start".Grammar books say it is always followed by -ing, but I was wondering if there is a difference in meaning.
    If you can make things clear I would be grateful!
    Mari
     
  2. mirx Senior Member

    Español
    Both to start working, and to start to work are acceptable, right now I can´t think of any difference in meaning, but there could be.

    I started to do my homework 3 hrs., ago.
    I started doing my homework 3 hrs, ago.
     
  3. LouisaB Senior Member

    English, UK
    There's a fractional difference in nuance, which is 'I started to do' could go on to say '...and I've only just finished it', whereas 'I started doing' sounds as if you're still doing it. But I don't think it would actually be wrong if you used them the other way round - it's the hint of a tinge of a nuance, that's all.
     
  4. mari78 Junior Member

    Italian, Italy
    Thank you!
    I actually had the feeling that "I started to do smthg" could imply that you finshed it or that you stopped doing something you were doing before.
    I was watching tv, then I started to do my homework
    I started to do my homework, then Lisa called and I went out.
    but I guess you can use the -ing form in both cases anyway.
     
  5. chjvu Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    So are these sentences correct?

    Digging trenches is something to start doing right now.
     
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    It could be, chjvu - though, for me, it would sound slightly more natural if it read:
    Digging trenches is something we should start doing right now.
     
  7. chjvu Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    Cheers, Loob
    But you don't have a definite answer?
     
  8. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    :confused: Yes I do: see above.
     
  9. chjvu Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    You said it COULD be
     
  10. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Digging trenches is something to start doing right now.
    I wouldn't use that sentence either.
    It may be correct, but it is not natural English in any context I can think of.
     
  11. chjvu Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Vietnamese - UK English (bilingual)
    Okay,
    Is this one correct then?
    "Turning off the lights is something not to forget to do"
     
  12. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Again, this is grammatically correct, but it is bizarre. A native speaker might say this to make a joke. If a student of English said it everyone would assume it was an error.
    "Don't forget to turn off the lights."
     
  13. faili New Member

    Malaysia
    Cham (Native), Malaysia-Malay & English
    Pardon me for interrupting. Regarding to the second sentence, is it incorrect? Can I say:

    I've started doing my homework 3 hrs, ago.

    Thanks.
     
  14. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Obviously you are free to say what you want, but there are cases — like the one in your post — in which, if you pronounce it, you'll make a mistake, or two. The correct options are:

    I started to do my homework 3 hrs. ago. (without a comma)
    I started doing my homework 3 hrs. ago. (ditto)

    Using the Present Perfect with an expression of PAST TIME is a mistake.

    GS
     

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