'Thank you for taking your time writing' or 'Thank you for taking your time to write' ?

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A person gave me an answer on English.SE and I commented:

Thank you for taking your time writing this wonderful answer!

Now, looking at the sentence in retrospect, even though I am not a native English speaker (duh, otherwise I wouldn't be asking a question on ELL.SE), I find the sentence a bit odd.

To get my point across, let me rephrase the sentence:

Thank you for taking your time to write this wonderful answer!

With my relatively little knowledge and understanding of English, I feel that using 'writing' (as I did in the original sentence) emphasizes the very process of writing the answer, whereas using 'to write' emphasizes the mere fact that an answer has been given, and a wonderful one at that.

This is exactly why I feel the original sentence is a little bit awkward and the second, revised one would have been more apt.

Am I correct or are the quoted sentences virtually synonymous?

Michael Smith

Posted 2016-07-27T15:19:53.160

Reputation: 233

It's an interesting question because I think that a native would be relatively lax and might just say your version, even though it's not technically what is meant. The second is definitely the correct phrasing for what you wanted to say but I have a feeling that you would hear both from natives and they could both be meant to mean the same thing. – Catija – 2016-07-27T15:36:06.777

Answers

12

taking your time means doing something slowly: this is probably not the meaning that you want! The correct expression to use is "taking the time".

The gerund works with taking your time:

You are taking your time writing those letters- get a move on!

But idiomatically the gerund doesn't work with taking the time. The idiomatic version is therefore

Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful answer!

Here is an NGram that shows that the infinitive form is common but the gerund is never used.

JavaLatte

Posted 2016-07-27T15:19:53.160

Reputation: 43 538

Thank you pointing out another mistake of mine and please, let me ask you for one more thing: could you elaborate on the case when neither taking your time nor taking the time are used at all? What would the difference between such two sentences be? – Michael Smith – 2016-07-27T17:14:22.030

2What's wrong with "Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful answer" - it seems 100% fine to me - perfectly idiomatic! – psmears – 2016-07-27T18:59:15.690

3Is there a typo? I think you meant for the idiomatic version to use "the time" instead of "your time". – default.kramer – 2016-07-27T19:27:17.533

@psmears: Oops, my bad :-/. Thank you for persisting in telling me I had made a mistake. Fixed now. – JavaLatte – 2016-07-27T20:29:35.223

@MichaelSmith: I am not sure what you mean, using neither "taking your time" nor "taking the time". Do you mean "Thank you for writing this wonderful answer!"? – JavaLatte – 2016-07-27T20:35:08.037

One way to retain the original sentence structure without risking misinterpretation of the phrase "taking your time" is to replace it with "spending time", as in "Thank you for spending [your] time writing those letters". – DoctorDestructo – 2016-07-27T20:45:53.050

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There's nothing really wrong with either one. I just maybe suggest

Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful answer!

I think that that's more commonly used.

Mithical

Posted 2016-07-27T15:19:53.160

Reputation: 713

Although this doesn't answer my particular question, thank you for pointing out another mistake I made. – Michael Smith – 2016-07-27T17:11:36.033

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I hope you upvoted too! Stack Exchange discourages using comments to say "thanks".

There is little wrong with either sentence. Both a gerund and a to-infinitive are correct here. I don't detect much difference in nuance. You could insert an "in" to say "...taking your time in writing", but I don't think it adds much. I prefer "in" over "for" in this sentence.

Given a choice, I prefer the infinitive. It is, perhaps, slightly more straightforward.

James K

Posted 2016-07-27T15:19:53.160

Reputation: 80 781

I did upvote, and even marked the answer as accepted :) To your answer, I would only object that in the original sentence, 'writing' is part of a participle phrase, not a gerund. If I had put 'in' or 'for' right before 'writing', it would be a gerund. Nevermind, I'll still upvote and mark your question as accepted, too :) – Michael Smith – 2016-07-27T15:53:29.650