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Stop Doing vs. Stop To Do
Also: Remember / Forget / Try
- (NG) Jack stopped to smoke three months ago and now he’s feeling much better.
- (OK) Jack stopped smoking three months ago and now he’s feeling much better.
- (NG) When I stopped buying coffee this morning, the clerk gave me a free donut!
- (OK) When I stopped to buy coffee this morning, the clerk gave me a free donut!
Grammar words and phrases in context
I remember talking with my grandfather about cigarettes last month. He was a heavy smoker and used to stop to smoke several times a day. In those days, a lot of people smoked, even inside the office. Can you believe that? Over the years, I think a lot of people have stopped smoking. Oh, I just realized I forgot to tell my grandfather that I stopped smoking too!
Generally, a verb can be followed by another verb, either the infinitive or a gerund. One example is the verb like:
- I like eating pizza.
- I like to eat pizza.
There is no difference in meaning between the two examples above and other verbs such as love and hate. On the other hand, stop, remember, try, and forget followed by a gerund, and stop, remember, try, and forget followed by an infinitive have a completely different meaning.
When you use stop followed by a gerund, the meaning is quit or finish. For example:
- I stopped smoking when I was in my mid-twenties. (I quit smoking.)
- I stopped buying coffee on the way to the office.
- I stopped working at 8pm last night.
When you use stop followed by an infinitive, the meaning is “take a break to do something.” For example:
- She stopped to smoke. (She was doing something, then she took a break so that she could smoke.)
- I stopped to buy coffee on the way to the office.
- During the drive to Boston, I stopped to have lunch.
When you use remember followed by a gerund, the meaning is, “I did it and I have a memory of it”
- I remember going to Istanbul. It was a great trip.
- I remember meeting Tom at the party. He was so funny.
- Jack said he doesn’t remember drinking too much, but he was very drunk at the party.
When you use remember followed by an infinitive, the meaning is, “I remember that I need to do it BEFORE I do it.”
- I have to remember to lock my office when I leave.
- Please remember to wash your hands before eating.
- I always remember to call my mom on her birthday.
When you use forget followed by a gerund, the meaning is, “I did it, but I don’t remember doing it.”
- I forgot paying the telephone bill, so I mistakenly paid twice.
- I forgot meeting Jack several years ago until he reminded me that we met in Chicago.
- I forgot falling down, because I was drunk when I fell down.
When you use forget followed by an infinitive, the meaning is, “I did not remember to do something important.”
- I forgot to call my grandmother on her birthday and she was very upset.
- Jack forgot to ask his customer to sign the contract.
- Don’t forget to call the airline and reconfirm your flight.
When you try to do something, it means you are using your effort to do something new or challenging.
- I’m trying to find the best way to cook that soup.
- Jenny is trying to learn French.
- Tommy moved to Florida and he’s trying to find a good pizza shop.
When you try doing something, there’s a kind of experiment or test to see what happens.
- I have an old laptop. I tried turning it on, but it didn’t work. So then I tried using a different AC adapter, but it still didn’t work.
- I tried sending Jack a few text messages, but he didn’t reply. I’m going to try calling If he doesn’t answer the phone, I’m going to try going to his house and knocking on the door.
- You dropped your phone in water? Why don’t you try putting it in a plastic bag with some uncooked rice? Then, after three or four days, try turning on the phone.