"To live here demands…" vs. "Living here demands…"


To live here demands extraordinary survival strategies.

Is the above structure common? It's from Planet Earth BBC series. Does the above sentence convey the same meaning as:

Living here demands extraordinary survival strategies.


Posted 2017-04-21T12:10:39.147

Reputation: 1 763

Did you mean "here"? – user178049 – 2017-04-21T12:12:56.043

And "Living" in the second example sentence? – SteveES – 2017-04-21T12:19:21.510

I think #1 (the infinitive version) is just about credible in this exact context, but in many similar contexts it doesn't work at all well. Most "credible" contexts involve repeating the infinitive, to create a parallel "epigrammatic" structure, such as To live is to suffer. My advice would be to stick to the second ("gerund noun" format) in all contexts, since it will probably always be acceptable, and usually much better than the alternative.

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2017-04-21T13:14:03.523

@FumbleFingers Thanks. May you please extend The answer, What do you mean by 'credible context'? – PHPst – 2017-04-21T20:27:07.287

I suppose by "most credible contexts" I mean usages that the average native speaker wouldn't think of as "odd" or "awkward" (or even "invalid"). Have a look at point #2 here: *It is not impossible for an infinitive to appear at the beginning of a sentence as the subject, but it is more common for an infinitive to appear as a Subject Complement.* In your specific example I'm sure most native speakers/writers would use the gerund *(#2 - living here)*, but *to live here* isn't actually "invalid".

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2017-04-23T14:02:45.430

2@FumbleFingers Thanks. Please consider converting you comments to an answer. – PHPst – 2017-04-23T21:21:11.950

@FumbleFingers This is a rare "in order to" case you can only get with the infinitive not the gerund . That's why it works. – tchrist – 2017-05-29T02:54:22.573

@tchrist : To live here would be the greatest thing ever looks like the same basic construction to me, but there's no sense of "in order to" there. And with both OP's and my example, I'd expect gerund *living here* to be far more common that infinitive *to live*.

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2017-05-29T14:36:56.503



The two sentences have different perspectives--outside looking in vs. inside.

To live here demands extraordinary survival strategies.

"To live here" means "in order to live here". This describes life abstractly if you're there. It also makes an implied comparison ("here" demands extraordinary survival strategies relative to other places).

Living here demands extraordinary survival strategies.

The continuous form describes the actual, real-time experience.


Posted 2017-04-21T12:10:39.147

Reputation: 5 349

The first one means in order to, and THAT'S why it's different. – tchrist – 2017-05-29T02:51:53.373

@tchrist, thanks. Good point. Updated the answer. – fixer1234 – 2017-05-29T05:35:07.810


Personally, as a native English speaker, the second is slightly better-sounding, what I'd use in conversation, but I don't think one is right or wrong.


Posted 2017-04-21T12:10:39.147

Reputation: 524