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-   -   Continue + infinitive or ing (http://www.eslhq.com/forums/esl-forums/english-questions/continue-infinitive-ing-8216/)

micaelo Apr 23rd, 2008 08:53 am

Continue + infinitive or ing
 
I know there's little difference in meaning between the two structures: continue to do or continue doing. I came across the suggestion we normally use continue to when we are talking about a state, as opposed to an action. Is this correct or would the diffence be another one? Thank you

michèle 2 Apr 23rd, 2008 11:23 am

Re: Continue + infinitive or ing
 
:)Yes, according to my grammar book continue + ing is used for the continuation of an activity and continue + infinitive is used for a change to a new activity.
Ex : She went on talking about her illness for hours. Then she went on to talk about her other problems.
Any other explanations?

mesmark Apr 23rd, 2008 05:18 pm

Re: Continue + infinitive or ing
 
Hmmm? My first example I thought of was

'She continued to ignore me.'

which goes against the current idea that continue + infinitive is used for a change to a new activity

i'll try to think of some other examples and get back on this ...

clivehawkins Apr 24th, 2008 02:15 am

Re: Continue + infinitive or ing
 
I'm confused.

Doesn't continue mean 'to do the same thing' ie not change activity? The very idea of using the verb continue to indicate a change in activity seems a bit odd to me.
In Mark's example he correctly states 'She continued to ignore me' means she was ignoring me, and then carried on ignoring me, hence no change.

I suspect, and I may be wrong (as I so often am), that there may be some confusion with 'Go on', which is a synonym of continue, although with a slight but important difference.

For example:
Peter went on talking for most of the afternoon. ie he continued talking

Following the introduction Peter went on to talk about a variety of interesting subjects. ie changed argument.

After cooking lunch, Mickey went on to wash the floor and tidy his bedroom ie he changed activity.

The teacher told the class to be quiet but they went on talking, much to her annoyance. ie they continued the same activity.

At least that's how I've understood it.

Anyone else?

michèle 2 Apr 24th, 2008 03:34 am

Re: Continue + infinitive or ing
 
:)Yes, you're right Clive, I've confused go on with continue
I've just found out that after some verbs begin -start- can't bear, intend, propose and continue , both ing forms and infinitives are possible without much difference of meaning.
I began playing the piano when I was six. = I began to play the piano when I was six. Is there a slight difference of meaning between the 2 sentences or no difference at all ?

mesmark Apr 24th, 2008 06:29 pm

Re: Continue + infinitive or ing
 
Quote:

Quote michèle 2 (Post 14992)
I began playing the piano when I was six. = I began to play the piano when I was six. Is there a slight difference of meaning between the 2 sentences or no difference at all ?

They both mean the same to me, but the first sounds a bit more natural. The second seems forced in this example, but it might be me :D

Leothelion Jun 12th, 2011 07:39 pm

Re: Continue + infinitive or ing
 
Browsing the internet with the quest to clarify the infinitive/gerund issue with ´continue´, I noticed that one site had ´continue´ for use with infinitives only.


However my Longman English Dictionary includes ´continue doing something´with two definitions:

1. to not stop happening, existing or doing something.
Most elderly people want to continue living at home for as long as they can.
2. to start again, or start doing something again, after an interruption. Resume.
He picked up his book and continued reading.

I teach English to Spanish-speaking students so they tend to translate (Continuo hablando con mis amigos (I continue talking to my friends) - but it somehow sounds more natural saying, "I continue to talk to my friends" and use 'carry on' for gerunds, i.e. "I carry on talking to my friends."


CONTINUE + INF
CARRY ON + GERUNDS


I welcome feedback .

susan53 Jun 14th, 2011 02:14 am

Re: Continue + infinitive or ing
 
Grammatically, and in terms of meaning, there's no difference to the use of the gerund/infinitive after "continue". I'm going to change your example to the past, because it's easier to think iof a context.

I told him his dinner was ready but he didn't come - he just continued talking to his friends on facebook. So I gave it to the cat.

I told him his dinner was ready but he didn't come - he just continued to talk to his friends on facebook. So I gave it to the cat.


There, for me, the gerund sounds slightly more likely. That could, however, be a personal preference - when the language gives different ways of saying the same thing individuals often differ in the options they tend to choose most frequently - this can be due to regional background, gender, or a host of other sociolinguistic factors.

Sometimes too, the language itself pushes us towards one option or the other. In the examples above, the verb was in the simple form, but if it's in the continuous, so that there's already an -ing form, then the infinitive option is chosen to avoid having two -ing forms together - ie, to avoid ..

* Despite the crisis people are continuing investing in the stock market

...the infinitive would be used :

Despite the crisis people are continuing to invest in the stock market

But to get back to your original example - I don't think your feeling that "carry on" is more natural is actually connected to the grammar at all - it's a lexical and stylistic issue. Often, when there's a choice between a one-word verb (especially as with "continue" when it's derived from Latin) and a phrasal verb, neutral-informal English will prefer the phrasal verb. So if you compare ...

I told him his dinner was ready but he didn't come - he just continued talking/to talk to his friends on facebook. So I gave it to the cat.

I told him his dinner was ready but he didn't come - he just carried on talking to his friends on facebook. So I gave it to the cat.


... then I'd agree that "carry on" sounds slightly more natural. But it's the lexical difference that's important, not the grammar.


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