Your duty is ... / your hobby is ....


Senior Member

1. Your duty is to stand here.
2. Your hobby is collecting old picture.

Source: self-made

These two sentences make me confused when I compare them.
This is my main confusion or question:

Why don't we use present participle [standing] in number 1 and why don't we use infinitive [to collect] in number two?

The two sentence above look similar in their construction but why 1 is to and the second one is ing?

Thank you
Last edited:
  • VicNicSor

    Your duty is what you have to do. Your have to stand here.*
    Your hobby is what you're doing (or your hobby is something). You are collecting old pictures. (in your original sentence it's a gerund, not a participle)

    *generally, but my duty is doing something is possible, I think.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    The following is how I explain it to myself:
    It is similar to VikNikSor's explanation, but wordier. :eek:

    In general, the infinitive is more abstract, so we use it more for purposes and intentions, for ideas of actions rather than the actual actions. For that reason, our 'duty' is an abstraction -- what we are supposed to be doing, which may not be what we actually are doing. Occasionally people do use the gerund with 'duty', but the use of the infinitive is far more common.

    On the other hand, gerunds refer to actual actions in the present or in the future, and a hobby is a real activity you enjoy while you do it.

    These are my understandings of why we use the forms we do. However, I don't think they will help you predict which one we'll use in each context. You will have to learn how each word is used when you learn your vocabulary.
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