Welcome to Daily Tips on Learning English. Today’s tip is on the difference in meaning between “stop doing something” and “stop to do something”.
“stop doing something” means not to do that any more, but “stop to do something” means stop one thing in order to do something else.
Let’s look at a clear example. “We stopped dancing.” “We stopped to get some drinks.” These sentences can even be put together to form “We stopped dancing to get some drinks.” Is the meaning clear? We were dancing but we got hot and thirsty, so we stopped. Why? Because we wanted to get some drinks. After we stopped, we got some drinks. Before we stopped, we were dancing. So, can you hear the difference in meaning between these two sentences? “We stopped to study” and “We stopped studying”. The first sentence “We stopped to study” means we are studying now. We were doing something else, maybe talking or watching TV, but we stopped doing that in order to study. On the other hand, the second sentence “We stopped studying” means we are not studying now. We were studying before but we stopped, maybe because we were tired or hungry.
Let’s take another example. “We stopped talking” and “We stopped to talk”. “We stopped talking” means it is quiet now because we are not talking anymore. “We stopped to talk” means we are talking now. Maybe we were walking on the sidewalk, saw each other, and stopped walking so that we can talk for a while.
So remember to be careful when choosing the verb form after “stop” as it changes the meaning of the sentence. This has been today’s daily tip. Tune in tomorrow for another tip.