"learn to do <something>" vs. "learn doing <something>"?



For example:

Ever since he was five, he learned to ride horses.

Does "learned riding" also work here?

Which is more proper or what is the difference between "learn to do <something>" and "learn doing <something>"?


Posted 2014-11-20T06:53:15.887

Reputation: 4 361

2Did you mean to say he was able to ride horses since the age of 5 or that he has been training as a horse rider since that age? – CowperKettle – 2014-11-20T09:18:02.740

4Most likely, neither version is what you want (because neither of them seems to make much sense). Are you trying to say "He was five when he (first) learned how to ride a horse"? or perhaps "He has been riding horses ever since he was five"? – F.E. – 2014-11-20T09:54:48.667



"Learned riding" is grammatical but feels a little clunky. I suspect it's because we expect to see "learned [noun]" or "learned [to verb]" and, while "riding" can certainly be used as a noun, it's most commonly a verb when it's used on its own: you'd normally specify what you were riding if you were using it as a noun (e.g., "horse riding", "bike riding", etc.). In contrast "He learned programming" does sound natural because "programming" is commonly used on its own as a noun.

So I would say that "Ever since he was five, he learned riding" is OK but "Ever since he was five, he learned to ride" or "... he learned horse/bike/camel riding" would be better.

Even better still is "... he has learned", since the phrase "Ever since" implies an action that began in the past but is continuing into the present.

David Richerby

Posted 2014-11-20T06:53:15.887

Reputation: 7 931


Ever since he was five, he learned to ride horses.

Ever since he was five, he learned riding horses.

First off, both sentences seem incorrect grammatically because it doesn't seem OK to use both clauses in the past with the use of "ever since". I think the correct sentence is as follows:

"Ever since he was five, he has learned to ride horses. Usually, we use to-infinitive after the verb "learn", not -ing form of the verb.

Second, we can rephrase this sentence in a simple form as follows:

"He was (only) five when he learned to ride horses".

Third, I think we can say "Ever since he was five, he has learned horse riding; here horse riding is a noun.


Posted 2014-11-20T06:53:15.887

Reputation: 26 261


It comes under something called 'verb pattern'. Some verbs take -ing and some take to+infinitive after them.

Generally, verbs like want, learn, offer takes to+infinitive form. So, the sentence in concern is correct.

Ever since he was five, he learned to ride horses.

Good read on this is Learn English on British Council website.

Maulik V

Posted 2014-11-20T06:53:15.887

Reputation: 66 188