Picking strawberries v. The picking of strawberries v. Strawberry-picking

3

Consider:

Picking strawberries can be fun.

The picking of strawberries requires patience.

Strawberry-picking is a strenuous job.

Which is more common in use than the others? Do they mean essentially the same thing in different context? Are these gerund formations always interchangeable?

Kinzle B

Posted 2014-04-19T02:42:52.497

Reputation: 7 089

3Good question! The bold parts all have the same meaning as far as I can tell. I'm not sure this would always work (usually nothing in English is always true). It might just come down to emphasis. If you were writing a paragraph about picking different berries, for example, you'd probably use parallel forms of the first type: “Picking strawberries can be fun, but picking blueberries is messy and difficult.” If you were talking about different things to do to strawberries, you might use the second form: “The picking of strawberries requires patience, but baking them is quick and easy.” – Tyler James Young – 2014-04-19T03:48:03.550

@TylerJamesYoung Sir, that's an answer. Would you mind deleting this? I'll be happy to upvote it. :) – Maulik V – 2014-04-19T05:41:42.947

totally agreed to Tyler's comment. The bold part tells the same thing. In fact, you put each of those three very well in context. – Maulik V – 2014-04-19T05:43:51.297

Answers

2

There are subtle differences. Your examples illustrate the differences.

Picking strawberries makes me think of pick-your-own farms, a day-out for the family. It is not a professional activity.

Fruit pickers are people who pick fruit for a living. They tend to move from crop to crop according to which fruit is in season. When strawberries are in season, they could be called strawberry pickers and strawberry picking is indeed a strenuous job.

The picking of strawberries puts the focus on the picking which here means selection, not harvesting. Picking strawberries for a top restaurant requires skill and patience. It is a different kind of job.

KCH

Posted 2014-04-19T02:42:52.497

Reputation: 384

A very inspiring answer! – Kinzle B – 2014-04-19T08:26:18.073

2

"Picking strawberries" sounds the most natural to me as a native AmE speaker. "The picking of strawberries" sounds formal to me. "Strawberry-picking" looks weird written but sounds fine to me when pronounced verbally.

My vote is for "picking strawberries", but all three are correct.

I'm not sure how interchangeable they are. Consider the following example:

  • Playing tennis always gets my heart pumping.
  • The playing of tennis is rather difficult. (sounds weird because "playing" isn't formal enough, but works grammatically I think)
  • Tennis-playing is good for developing hand-eye coordination. (again, looks weird in written form but sounds fine when said verbally)

RedDragonWebDesign

Posted 2014-04-19T02:42:52.497

Reputation: 1 251

1Someone downvoted this answer. Plz give the reason here. Thx in advance! – Kinzle B – 2014-04-19T05:51:44.563

3@Maulik V I think you have deleted something important in this answer. AdmiralAdama said he answered it from an American perspective. – Kinzle B – 2014-04-19T05:56:43.273

@ZhanlongZheng added that if you think it's important. It just looked superfluous the way it was mentioned. – Maulik V – 2014-04-19T06:04:17.290

The language has regional difference. As you might have seen, lots of teachers here say his answer only applies to his AmE or BrE or even his dialect. @Maulik V – Kinzle B – 2014-04-19T06:16:35.890

Strawberry-picking looks weird because it shouldn't be hyphenated here. You can hyphenate it when it's used as an adjective (i.e., a strawberry-picking trip). The same applies to tennis-playing. – Peter Shor – 2014-04-19T20:01:39.957