Gerund vs. infinitive

Hi. I have come across the following sentence on the BBC and I wonder if the use of the infinitive is correct here:

What it (India) has been slower to do is use technology to help its own people.

I mean should the sentence read like this:

What it has been slower to do is using technology to help its own people.

Also, what rule does apply here?
Thanks in advance for clarifying.

Hi Spearhead,

In the sentence you have given I think it is better to use the infinitive for both verbs to provide balance. In other words: to do + (to) use.

Take another sentence:

It is easier to read another language than to speak it.

It is easier reading another language than speaking it.

You ask for the meaning of apply. I could give you a better response if you gave me the context or its use in a sentence.


Hello Alan. Pleased to meet you. I barely had finished typing my message when I got this email that an answer has already arrived!
I understand your explanation and regarding the word apply - I have put my question wrong. It should have read What rule applies here? This means, how do I know when to use the gerund and when the infinite form. I remember there is a list of words that either require the gerund or the infinitive but I’m afraid I’ve never learned those verbs. So, is there any easy to grasp rule?

Hi Spearhead,

Unfortunately there are verbs that can take either, others can only be followed by the infinitive and yet again verbs followed by the gerund only. Life is difficult! I would however recommend a grammar book originally published some 45 years ago and still available: A Practical English Grammar by A J Thomson and A V Martinet published by Oxford University Press, in which you will find the lists of verbs and also lots of other useful information. The general difference between infinitive and gerund after verbs that can take either is that the infinitive is often specific and the gerund often general. Compare these two:

I like swimming.
I like to swim when the weather is really hot.

Hope this helps


OK Alan I’ll check out that book you have referenced and your two sample sentences make good sense. The good thing with such a forum is that you get the information one piece at a time while a book often too much and I get discouraged because I think I will never be able to cram all that into my head so thank you again.