# When can we use "an approach to do something" ?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by vvujun, Apr 10, 2012.

1. ### vvujunMember

Changsha, China
Chinese-Mainland
When can we use "an approach to do something" ?

I figure out an approach to obtaining/obtain some useful information.

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2012
2. ### CopyrightSenior Member

Penang
American English
I don't fully understand your question -- it sounds like you want to know when you can use the infinitive form after "approach," but then you get us an infinitive form along with a gerund.

Perhaps you can clarify your question.

3. ### rhitagawrSenior Member

Wales
British English
I don't think you can use "approach" in the sense of "way/means/method" of doing something. Or perhaps I've misunderstood you. You can approach a problem. "How are you going to approach this problem?" - how are you going to go about attempting to solve it? "John tried to solve the problem mathematically but this wasn't the right approach" - John tried to solve the problem in the wrong way.

4. ### PaulQSenior Member

UK
English - England
In this context, an approach = a way/style/method of considering or handling something[h=3][/h]

5. ### vvujunMember

Changsha, China
Chinese-Mainland
Sorry for my carelessness.

an approach = a way/style/method

I always use the word "approach". But all of them are "to doing something" form after "approach". So I wonder what the difference is between "to doing something" form and the infinitive form after "approach".

For example:
1, I presented a novel approach to handle this problem.
2, I presented a novel approach to handling this problem.

Is there any difference?

6. ### sound shiftSenior Member

Derby (central England)
English - England
They are different.
1. "I presented a novel approach to handle this problem": "to handle" is the full infinitive and here means "in order to handle". So the sentence means "In order to handle this problem, I presented a novel approach." This makes little sense to me and I wonder if it says what you want to say.
2. "I presented a novel approach to handling this problem": "to" is a preposition and "handling" is a gerund (a noun). The sentence appears to say that you presented a new way of dealing with the problem, but it sounds a bit vague to me: When you say "handling the problem", do you mean "living with the problem" or "solving the problem"?

Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
7. ### rhitagawrSenior Member

Wales
British English
I'd suggest there's a difference between "approach" (verb and noun) and "way/means/method" etc. "Approach" refers to the way in which you initially consider a problem. "Way" refers to a solution to the problem. "He approached the problem from a logical point of view and soon found a way of solving it."