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How to Express Liking and Disliking

The theory

We discussed expressing likes and dislikes in Issue 047 of our English Corner Weekly E-zine, to which you can subscribe on any page of this website.

To express likes and dislikes, we use the verb ‘like’ and its synonyms – verbs such as love, enjoy, prefer, hate, dislike, etc. These can be followed by:

i) A to-infinitive clause, or by
ii) an -ing clause, as well as by
iii) a noun phrase object

Some examples

Let's look at some examples:

My cousin from Chicago likes/loves/hates
i) to give parties. (i.e. She likes the idea of it…)
ii) giving parties. (i.e. he likes it when she does it…)
iii) parties. (i.e. She likes them)

Some points to consider when communicating

1) What's the difference?

As you can see, there is a slight difference between the infinitive clause, which expresses an ‘idea’ and the -ing clause, which expresses a fact (the action), but even native speakers do not care much about the grammatical rules strictly nowadays. However, it is useful for you to be aware of the difference and use these clauses correctly after verbs expressing likes and dislikes.

2) Hypothetical situations

A note worth discussing here is that only the infinitive clause can be used when the main verb is hypothetical, or imaginary. In other words it expresses what you would like, if such and such conditions would be present:

(A) Would you like to have dinner now?
(B) No, I prefer to eat later.

You see, in this example the dinner hasn't happened and this conversation is only about something in the minds of the speakers; it's about what they would like to happen. In this sense, it would be incorrect to say:

(A) Would you like having dinner now?
(B) No, I prefer eating later.

Can you feel the difference?

3) Exclusive use of -ing clauses

Another rule you need to apply diligently is that ‘enjoy’, ’dislike’ , and ’loathe’ ONLY TAKE -ing clauses:

He enjoys / dislikes / loathes working.

And now it's your turn - try your hand at this exercise:

Unfortunately, I struggled with the Internet connection today, so this form is very short. However, I shall complete it soon, so make sure you visit this page again and practice this lesson until you're certain of the nuances.

Liking and Disliking Exercise

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.
to travel around the world at leisure.
travelling around the world at leisure.
the travel around the world at leisure.
to sunbathe on the beach.
sunbathing on the beach.
sunbathing.
to play with his Lego toys.
playing with his Lego toys.
his Lego toys.

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