We suggest to avoid to make this error…

Many cases of an action being expressed in Dutch with an infinitive are more naturally written in English with a gerund (the “-ing” form) serving as a noun for that action.

As a general rule, I’d say that “-ing” is the more fluid form and using it in preference will rarely be wrong. Alternative phrasing is often worth considering too (e.g. We advise that you should book in advance).

  • Examples: consider, suggest, omit, avoid, advise, recommend and more
    • We advise booking in advance.
      (But note that “We advise you to book in advance” has a completely different subject – “you” – for the verb!)
    • Doctors recommend jogging for cardiac health.
    • I’d consider going home before it gets dark.
  • And of course (an ugly double one), “We suggest avoiding making this error.”

If you aren’t sure for any particular case, you can always google up a few combinations (specifically on UK sites is best) and see what’s most common. And you can imagine inserting “the act of” before the gerund.

Prevalence: very high. Related to the fact that Dutch turns verbs into nouns by putting “het” in front of the infinitive form, I guess.
Frequency: high. If an author gets it wrong once, it may well happen regularly.
Native: variable. It has to be admitted that usage does vary a bit among native speakers too, depending on where they come from and the exact context.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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