English Lesson: Stop + Gerund Vs. Stop + Infinitive

Michael Advanced, Intermediate 5 Comments

New York just became a more difficult place to smoke in. There is a new law that prohibits smoking in most public places, including beaches and parks. I was walking in Central Park yesterday and I stopped to drink a cup coffee. I was enjoying my coffee on a bench, someone stopped to smoke a cigarette. Even though I stopped smoking a long time ago, I still understand how people can enjoy the habit. Speaking of habits, recently I have been thinking I need to stop drinking coffee…

Today we will look at stop + gerund (Verb-ing) and stop + infinitive (to Verb). There is a difference in meaning between these two. Do you know what that is? Take a look at the paragraph above and then check out today’s lesson:

Stop + Gerund
When we use stop + Verb-ing, it means “quit.” Here are some examples:

  • I stopped smoking a long time ago.
  • I need to stop drinking so much coffee.
  • Joe stopped playing golf because of back pain.

Stop + Infinitive
When we use stop + to Verb, it means “in order to” or “for the purpose of.” Here are some examples:

  • I stopped to drink a cup of coffee. (I took some time from my schedule in order to drink coffee)
  • He stopped to smoke a cigarette. (He was walking, then stopped in order to smoke)
  • I stopped to buy flowers on the way home. (I went into the store in order to buy flowers)

We often say “stop off” or “stop by [place]” in such cases:

  • I stopped off to drink a cup of coffee.
  • I my way home stopped by the florist to buy flowers.

Remember, there is a difference:

  • I stopped smoking (I quit smoking)
  • I stopped to smoke (I took a break in order to smoke)

I’m so happy you stopped to read my lesson today. This lesson topic was requested by my twitter friend @Love_MushroOm. If you have a request or a suggestion, let me know!

  • http://Website Love_MushroOm

    Thanks for mentioning me :) I have learned a lot from your posts!

    • http://blog.myhappyenglish.com Michael

      Thank you for suggesting this lesson topic :)

  • http://Website Misa

    Hello.
    I’m often confused using this theme “stop + Verb-ing” and “Stop + Infinitive”. In case of “stop”,the meaning is different between them.
    As I read your lesson,I know it now. There are “verb” that the meaning is almost same,for example,like,hate. I understand the dictionary like this.
    Will you tell me other words that I should pay attention to use “verb+〜ing” and “verb+infinitive”?

  • http://blog.myhappyenglish.com Michael

    Hi Misa,
    Thanks for your message. You asked a good question. There are other verbs that change their meaning depending on what follows them. I will post the details in the next lesson :)

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