Verb Patterns: Stop Doing vs Stop to Do Something

Stop Doing vs Stop to Do

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In this lesson, I talk about the difference between “stop to do something” and “stop doing something.” This can be confusing, but the difference is important.

I also look at the verb patterns of “start” and whether there is a difference between, “start doing” and “start to do.”

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Stop Doing Something vs Stop to Do Something

In the video clip, I said the following:

However, after a few weeks or a few months, the majority of learners start to lose that initial energy and motivation. And in many cases, they stop learning English for a period of time.

To stop doing something means to finish/quit doing something. Stop to do something means to take a break/finish doing something else to do something.

It sounds complicated, but some examples will help:

  • “My dad stopped smoking a few years ago.”
  • “My friend stopped (driving his car) to answer his phone”
  • “We stopped having lunch when they arrived.”
  • “We stopped to have lunch at the service station.”

In example three, when they arrive, we finished having lunch. We stopped eating. In the fourth example, we stopped driving the car to have lunch.

As you can see, we often use both forms together.

With the verb start, it is much easier. Both “start doing something” and “start to do something” mean the same thing.

What to Do Now:

1. Do people stop to answer their phone when driving where you live? Leave your answers below.
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  • Sahar Shamout

    First I want to thank you Jack. The answe to the question is No. The majority in my country wont stop driving to answer the phone.

  • Dapot Sianipar

    I guess most of people don’t stop to answer their phone.