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What is the difference between " start + to-infinitive" & " start + "ing""??

For example,

1) It started to rain.

2) It started raining.

I know start is followed by gerund. But somehow I see " It started to rain" this sentence. Then what is the difference?? When we will use them??

*** I have been told by my brother that there is no such sentence " It started to rain". It has mistake in it. Is my brother right???
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Comments  (Page 2) 

Often there is no or minimal difference, but not always. He started to eat his meat after I told him that it wasn't squirrel. vs. He was a vegetarian but recently he started eating meat. While they MAY be interchangeable, in these examples there are clear preferences

Avangidepending both on the verb from which the verbals are derived, and on the verb which precedes them

Hello Avangi I've been searching for a difference between start to and start ing and found out your answer.

I'm just wondering if 'the verb' means 'start'? and what 'the verbals' imply in your answer?

English is not my native language so I'm quite confused with what you've said..

Thank you for your time.

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?

Hi

This is all my opinion and I'm no expert:

There are other examples similar to this such as

"She started smoking when she was 14." - a habit began. I don't think you could use infinitive here.

and

"She took out a cigarette and started to smoke." I think inf here is more preferable but you could use the gerund here too.

I would say that the gerund is almost always possible but sometimes infinitive isn't. So maybe if you want to play safe, use the gerund.

In addition, we use stop + gerund so it's easy to teach/remember 'start / stop + gerund'

The difference is one of direction. Verbs that can be followed by either -ing or to, refer to past or future action.

I will remember to tell him TOMORROW that . . . .

I remember telling him YESTERDAY that . . . .

Cheers!