Alex Golovchenko
Infinitive or Verb+ing in compound nominal predicate

Could anybody explain to me how to define when we have to use the Infinitive or Verb+ing as a predicative? 

In my manual is written that when we talk about a purpose, we have to use the Infinitive.

However, why do we use the Verb+ing in the following sentence?

The aim of that meeting was raising money for charities.

And why do we use the Infinitive in the following example? Where is the aim in this example?

His ideology is to help everybody who is in need.

May 6, 2018 9:26 AM
Comments · 5

Hi Alex,

Just remember that when you use grammar jargon like "predicative", you're confusing over 90% of us. :) (Plus you need the noun: predicate.)

OK, the first thing is YES, we use "to [verb]" when we want to show an intention. This is "the infinitive of purpose". We refer back to the last action mentioned and the infintive of purpose explains that.


However, that's not the only rule in English. We normally use "to be" to connect two concepts. There's nothing advanced about this; it's in your very first English lesson.

The aim of that meeting was raising money for charities.

The aim of that meeting = raising money for charities.

So we have a gerund here. You've probably already asked how to differentiate between [to be] + gerund and a continuous verb form. The simple answer is: if it's confusing, we avoid it.

You can equally write, The aim of that meeting was to raise money for charities.


For your last sentence, if you write, His ideology is helping everybody who is in need, then we read it as present continuous: real-world results instead of his intention. The sentence now has a different meaning.  Using to help is a good example of avoiding that kind of confusion.

May 6, 2018
Thanks, Alex. I thought it might have been something like that. I am a grammar ignoramus, so I cannot help, I'm afraid. What I do, if it's not working, is to scrap the whole sentence and start anew. Unfortunately, in these grammar books, they cant. They trap themselves into a box with some words and a grammatical law to illustrate, and so you get these artificial sentences.
May 7, 2018
Thank you for your contribution, Bluebottle. I got these examples from the grammar rules that I read. My question was only about the correct use of the Infinitive and Verb+ing after the verb to be. Unfortunately, the rules didn't give me this clarification.
May 7, 2018

The meeting was held to raise money for charities. Or, that meeting was a fundraiser. Personally, "the aim was raising money.." sounds far too complex to me. Certainly everyone would understand it, though. "aim" is a fashionable word today, but that does not mean that you should bring it into every sentence. It can easily be omitted here (or most anywhere) and the same idea can be expressed more easily.

His philosophy is to help the needy.

May 7, 2018
Thank you for your clarification, Peachey. The point that you mentioned in the last paragraph is very helpful. Sorry that I confused the word predicative with "predicate". 
May 7, 2018
Alex Golovchenko
Language Skills
Arabic, Arabic (Egyptian), English, Russian, Spanish
Learning Language