Jul 17 2019
Have you seen “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?” It’s a famous Disney movie from 1937. In the story, a girl meets seven dwarves (or very short men) in the forest. The dwarves have a difficult job that they must do every day. To help them complete their work, they sing and whistle.
When you have a repetitive task that needs doing, there are many ways to make the experience less boring. You can sing or listen to music. You can eat or chew gum. You can chat with a friend. Or, if you have the skill, you can whistle while you work. Why not give it a try?
Brian doesn’t realize that his whistling is causing a problem for Kellie. Find out how they work it out by reading today’s English lesson.
Kellie: Hey, Brian? I’m just trying to get a little bit of work done here. Do you mind not whistling?
Brian: Oh, was I whistling?
Kellie: Yeah, you were.
Brian: Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t even realize when I do. Sometimes when I’m just doing a repetitive task, I start whistling.
Kellie: Oh, that’s OK. I understand the “whistle while you work” thing. Yeah. Also, I can’t whistle, so I may be jealous, but…
Brian: Oh. It’s a skill you have to hone.
Kellie: Oh, really?
Kellie: Well, you are very skilled at it, I have to say.
Brian: Oh, thank you. I heard it was hereditary, but no one in my family can whistle.
Kellie: Everyone in my family can wiggle their ears, which is pretty cool. So I’ve always wanted to learn how to whistle. Maybe you can teach me?
Brian: Oh, yeah. I’ve never tried teaching anyone, but yeah. Let’s give it a try.
Kellie can’t do her work. She’s not too tired. Her work isn’t boring. And Kellie isn’t thinking about someone or something else. Brian just won’t stop whistling!
What’s interesting is that Brian doesn’t even know that he’s whistling. When he has to do the same things over and over, Brian starts to whistle. Kellie understands why he does it, and she even asks Brian to teach her how. But she still needs him to stop if she’s going to get her work done.
Can you whistle? Does it bother you when other people whistle?
Gerunds vs. Infinitives
Brian tells Kellie, “Sometimes when I’m just doing a repetitive task, I start whistling.” He uses two gerunds.
Gerunds and infinitives are both verbal forms that act as nouns. Gerunds end in -ing, such as swimming, walking, or laughing. Brian uses the gerunds doing and whistling in his sentence.
Infinitives are the basic verb form with the particle to, as in to swim, to walk, or to laugh.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know whether it’s best to use a gerund or an infinitive in a sentence. Here are a few rules:
Both gerunds and infinitives can follow a verb, as in, “I don’t like losing,” or, “I don’t like to lose.” They can also both be the subject of a sentence, as in, “Catching a chicken is difficult,” or, “To catch a chicken is difficult.”
But only gerunds follow prepositions. For example, it’s correct to say, “I can’t leave a painting without finishing it,” but it’s not correct to say, “I can’t leave a painting without to finish it.”
Which is correct, “I ate dinner after walking the dog,” or, “I ate dinner after to walk the dog”?