e.g. There was no use pretending that they were different from the others.
There was no use complaining.
This construction is less common than the one with the formal if, still less
common is the pattern in which the ing-form is preceded by the preposition in.
e.g. You can see now there's no use in tryingto make him understand.
Sometimes the ing-form occurs after a number of other nouns
which are, as a rule, semantically pale, such as thing, business,
chance, idea, problem and some others. The nouns are usually
modified by an adjective which is semantically more important
than the noun.
e.g. In this filthy weather it's the hardest thing in the world get-
ting things dry.
I'd like to give it to him myself. It's not the same thing send-
ing it in a letter.
It's been a great chance my meeting you like this.
It'll be such a surprise to her seeing you.
It should be mentioned, however, that the ing-form is not
common after these nouns. We normally find an infinitive here
(see "Verbs", § 206). The use of this ing-form is mainly restricted
to spoken English.
For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted
I by the ing-form see "Verbs", § 166.
§ 232. The ing-form may also be used as an attribute in a sen-
tence pattern with it as a formal object of the verbs to find, to
think and to make. The formal it, in its turn, is followed by a
noun. It is to this noun that the ing-form serves as an attribute.
e.g. Won't you find it rather a bore having me at home for so long?
It should be noted that this construction is of rare occurrence.
(For comparison with the infinitive see § 207.)
The ing-form as Parenthesis
§ 233. The ing-form as parenthesis tends to become a set phrase.
We mainly find here the verbs to talk and to speak. The ing-form
as parenthesis serves to denote some sort of reservation on the part
of the speaker or else it is used as an introductory phrase, meaning
'incidentally' (compare with the Russian кстати).
e.g. Secrets, generally speaking, are not very well kept nowadays,
with reporters and television cameras all around us.
Roughly speaking, it might have been said that youth and
hope in women touched him.
Talking about crime, I can lend you rather a good book, as
you are interested in the subject.
Of course, strictly speaking, the excuse was not necessary.
The ing form as parenthesis is in most cases placed at the head
of the sentence and, in writing, marked off by a comma.
The Infinitive and the ing-form Compared
§ 234. The infinitive and the ing-form sometimes have similar
functions in the sentence and it is therefore necessary to define
the spheres of their application.
The distinction between the two verbals partly lies in their dif-
ferent tense and aspect characteristics. The infinitive tends to ex-
press a single action following that of the predicate verb, while
the ing-form generally serves to denote permanent actions, simul-
taneous with that of the predicate verb. (These characteristics re-
fer to the simple forms of the infinitive and the ing-form. Their
Perfect forms are infrequent and do not play an important part in
distinguishing between the two verbals). But it should be noted
that we are dealing here only with tendencies, not with hard and
fast rules. For that reason the difference between the infinitive
and the ing-form sometimes becomes obliterated.
In most cases, however, the differentiation between the two
verbals rests on linguistic tradition which finds its expression in
1) the infinitive and the ing-form have a different frequency
of occurrence in certain functions (and the preference of one form
to the other cannot be accounted for by any tangible reasons,
grammatical or semantic);
2) the infinitive and the ing-form are in certain functions lexi-
cally dependent, which means that their choice is determined by
their head-word, but not by any grammatical properties inherent
3) the infinitive and the ing-form are sometimes structurally
dependent, i.e. their use is determined by definite sentence patterns;
4) the infinitive and the ing-form may become part of a set
Besides, in some of the functions there are a few additional
factors which affect the choice between the two verbals. The in-
finitive, for instance, may acquire modal meaning which is never
expressed by the ing-form. The ing-form, in its turn, when preced-
ed by prepositions (or conjunctions), can express different mean-
ings not typical of the infinitive. In certain functions the infini-
tive of terminative verbs serves to express accomplished actions,
while the ing form shows the action in its progress.
The Perfect infinitive may, as well as the Perfect ing-form,
denote actions preceding that of the predicate verb. But the Per-
fect infinitive can also, in certain positions, express unreality.
On the whole, the differentiation between the infinitive and
the ing-form is well defined, and the choice between them does not
present much difficulty as in most functions there is no overlap.
To prevent possible mistakes in the cases where they do overlap, it
is necessary to compare the two verbals where they are used in a