To play chess is fun.


Senior Member
japanese japan

I wonder why "To play chess is fun." is not idiomatic.

Is this the same phenomenon you use a gerund after the verb 'enjoy'?

If so, I think there could be a formula that to say 'something is fun' implies that you have already experienced the activity. Is this guess right?

One more thing I'd like to ask:

1. "It is fun to play chess."
2. "It is fun playing chess."

Are both correct and idiomatic?

Thanks in advance.
  • ATLGradStudent

    Senior Member
    English - American
    "To play chess is fun" is not incorrect, though it sounds stilted. I don't believe, however, that it has anything to do with the fact that you are saying chess is fun. While the word enjoy does always take a gerund, it just happens to be on the list of verbs that take gerunds. There are verbs that imply that you enjoy something but that take infinitives or leave the choice between infinitive and gerund up to you, such as "like," "want," "prefer," "love," "yearn," "can't wait," or "would like"

    Rather, the reason many people would prefer "playing chess is fun" (I prefer it too!) is that almost all of the time people prefer a gerund to an infinitive as the subject of the sentence. This is especially true of spoken English. When you use the gerund, it tends to give a feeling of simplicity and fact. When you use an infinitive, you are creating a feeling of philosophical abstraction. Take for instance Alexander Pope's famous line: "to err is human, to forgive divine" which is making claims about philosophical truth and divinity. These forms are much rarer and would be more common in written English.

    To say that you enjoy playing chess is simply a statement of personal preference, so it lacks this philosophical element. This page explains it well, I think.

    As for your last two sentences: Yes, they are both correct and acceptable. But, as the website I have cited suggests, you might attribute some slight difference in meaning and abstraction to the two forms. Personally, I think the difference is less noticeable when discussing the object of the verb as opposed to the subject. I would probably choose "It is fun playing chess" most of the time.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There are lots of previous threads about gerunds and infinitives in various situations.
    They may not address this specific topic, but may be interesting.
    You can find them by looking up gerund infinitive in the dictionary and thread title search.
    This also appears in the FAQ post in the sticky at the top of the forum.
    Gerund, infinitive - The difference in use between <verb>ing and to <verb> (eg. I like to ski, I like skiing).
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