like to - like Verb ing

lily8

Senior Member
Spanish - Argentina LP
Hey eveybody,

I wonder what's the difference between:

I like to play the guitar.

and

I like playing the guitar.

Thanks! :)
 
  • le_sacre

    New Member
    english, U.S.A.
    Good question!

    They are very similar, and mostly interchangeable.

    I would say that "I like playing the guitar," is somewhat more common on its own. To my ear, "I like to play the guitar," is more often used with some additional context. For example: "I like to play the guitar when I get home from work," or "I like to play guitar in the kitchen."

    I think there is a subtle difference in meaning because "playing," being a gerund, is a verb treated as a noun, but "to play," being an infinitive, still feels like a verb. So "playing the guitar" feels like a direct object in the sentence, whereas in the other sentence, "like to play" feels like the predicate, and the object is just "the guitar."

    But in general, I think you can use either one in any circumstance.
     

    lily8

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Argentina LP
    Le Sacre, thank you so much for your answer!

    I understand what you're saying. When I teach my students about "Likes and Dislikes" the rule to be followed is: LIKE + V-ing. But, I've seen lots of sentences using "LIKE TO"... does that have anything to do with "having a preference"?

    That is to say,

    I like playing the guitar (as an activity)
    I like to play the guitar (as a preference, I prefer that to playing another instrument)

    ?? I think I read that somewhere some time ago... am I too crazy? haha

    Thanks again :)
     

    le_sacre

    New Member
    english, U.S.A.
    Hi lily8,

    That's interesting. I think you're partly right. It's like the infinitive form and the gerund form emphasize different aspects.

    "What do you like to do?" "I like playing the guitar." (as an activity)

    But I think "to play the guitar" is not so much about preference as specificity. It sounds more specific to me than "playing the guitar."

    It is very close in sound to "I'd like to play the guitar," which definitely can indicate preference (but this is a different use of the word "like").

    The more I think about it, if I hear someone say, "I like to play the guitar..." I expect some kind of context, like circumstances during which she or he likes to play the guitar, or a list of other things she or he likes to do. "I like playing the guitar..." can be used in context the same way, but it can also stand on its own very well.
     

    jabogitlu

    Senior Member
    USA-English
    jugar is to play so i believe you use a verb for one and not the other?

    Would one use jugar here, or tocar? Or is either acceptable...

    For me, both "I like to play/playing the guitar" mean the same thing. It's also fine to leave out the definite article.
     

    lily8

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Argentina LP
    Swimxx, thanks for answering my question!

    Le sacre, you've been very clear in your explanation and I thank you so much for your valuable help.

    Saludos! :)
     

    lily8

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Argentina LP
    Hello, Jabogitlu :)

    When we talk about a musical instrument, we use "tocar" and when we talk about sports, we use "jugar"
     

    Jigoku no Tenshi

    Senior Member
    Venezuela-Castellano
    1) Me gusta tocar la guitar.
    2) Me gusta tacando la guitar.

    ¿Sí?
    ¡Hola a todos!

    No, ambas son:
    1) Me gusta tocar (la) guitarra
    2) Me gusta tocar (la) guitarra

    En inglés el gerundio en este tipo de expresiones se traducen al castellano como infinitivo,
    En inglés:
    Subject + start/like/hate/begin + verbo en infinitivo = subject + start/like/hate/begin + verbo en gerundio
    pero en castellano solo hay una opcion para la traducción:
    Sujeto + Comenzar/gustar/odiar/comenzar + verbo en infinitivo

    Claro en las estructuras los verbos van conjugados de acuerdo al sujeto

    La diferencia entre ambos en inglés es muy sutil muchas veces pueden ser utilizadas ambas formas, pero depende un poco mas de la intención y del contexto, y son muchos mas los verbos que tienen ambos tanto gerundio como infinitivo, asi como otros que solo aceptan o gerundio o infinitivo si usas el motor de busqueda sobre los hilos donde se ha discutido lo del "ing" conseguiras una en donde hay una lista de cuales se usan con ambos y cuales con solo una forma

    Espero que te sirva
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Le Sacre, thank you so much for your answer!

    I understand what you're saying. When I teach my students about "Likes and Dislikes" the rule to be followed is: LIKE + V-ing. But, I've seen lots of sentences using "LIKE TO"... does that have anything to do with "having a preference"?

    That is to say,

    I like playing the guitar (as an activity)
    I like to play the guitar (as a preference, I prefer that to playing another instrument)

    ?? I think I read that somewhere some time ago... am I too crazy? haha

    Thanks again :)
    The rule that you follow is, say, correct as you most probably you teach British variant of English in which like is most often used with gerund and when used with infinitive it conveys different connotations.

    Like doing expresses your general prefrence, habit or whatever you like doing. Like to do means you "find it right", eg.:
    I like to go to the pumonologist twice a year.
    You think it is wise to go to the pulmonologist two times a year.
    I like going to the pulmonologist twice a year.
    You enjoy going to this specialist (doesn;t mean you find it wise).
    Mother likes her children to play in the backyard.
    Mother thinks her kids are safe when they play in the backyard.

    There are also differences when you use the negative:
    I don't like to go to the pumonologist twice a year.
    I don't think it's wise.
    I like going to the pulmonologist twice a year.
    I don't enjoy going there.
    Note another difference in the negative:
    I don't like going usually means I go although I don't enjoy it, whereas, I don't like to go means I don't go (because I don't find it right).


    In practical usage the above may not apply or is very much blurred up. American speakers, as pointed out, use like doing and like to do and my speculation is thet they are also picked up by Bristish speakers who find these forms in media.



    Tom
     

    eyowell

    Senior Member
    spanish chile
    Following the same arguments above, I suggest this:

    I like to play the gitar = prefiero tocar la guitarra
    I like playing the gitar = me gusta tocar la guitarra

    Of course the first one is not a literal translation, but it could give a sutil difference between both of them.

    Correct me if I'm wrong.
     

    register14

    New Member
    USA English
    I agree that 'to like' may be a little more contextual, only because I would say, "When I get home from work, I like to drink a beer." However, I would also say, "I like drinking beer when I get off work." Hmmm. I wouldn't worry about it much -- say or write whatever comes to your mind first.
     
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