I like painting: Me gusta pintando? Infinitive vs gerund.

I like painting: Me gusta pintando? Infinitive vs gerund.

This is not very discussed, but every beginner has this question! And people from all levels might have difficulty knowing which one to use.

I'll show you what I'm talking about:
Jugar - to play
Jugando - playing

So, why is this translated this way...

  • "Me gusta jugar al fútbol"

and not like this?:
- "I like playing football"
- "Me gusta jugando al fútbol"*

why?

In English, the previous sentence can be said in two ways:

  1. I like playing football.
  2. I like to play football.

Same happens here:

  1. Before to go home.
  2. Before going home.

  1. Travelling is great.
  2. To travel is great.

But when we translate it, we only use the infinitive (a verb that ends in -ar, -er or -ir):

  • Me gusta jugar al fútbol (I like TO PLAY football)
  • Antes de ir a casa (Before TO GO home)
  • Viajar es genial (TO TRAVEL is great)

So, what's the rule?

Use the gerund when:

1- It expresses action, not a concept.

2- We use the verb "estar" a lot in this case (but not always): Estar + gerund: To be doing something.
Ex: Estoy escribiendo - I am writing)

3- It's happening at an specific moment.

Extra tip: If you can choose between "to do" or "doing", go with "to do", the infinitive.
  • I am writing (right now) / I was writing (yesterday).

  • I can't say: I to write right now. / I to write yesterday*

  • So I use the gerund: Estoy escribiendo ahora mismo / Estaba escribiendo ayer.

So, that's it!