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英語研究プロジェクトCase Study 17

意味的に大丈夫?I stopped to smoke.


I stopped to smoke.

This is a perfect sentence. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Go ahead - use it - be my guest!

Having said that. Are sure about the meaning?

A lot of people say this sentence, or something similar, without realizing what they are actually inferring. To infer means to insinuate. By insinuating I mean suggest.

Let’s break this down in the next section



If you use the structure 'I stopped to do something,' it means RIGHT NOW.

I was doing action A and I stopped to do action B.

For example

She was walking down the hall and she stopped to pick up the clothes.

I was talking to you and I stopped to straighten the camera lens.

She was running and she stopped to tie her shoelaces.

The penguins stopped walking to have a look around and a shake.

- So I was in the middle of doing action A

- I stopped Action A

- Why did I stop?

- Because I wanted to do Action B

It’s as simple as that

So if you say, I stopped to smoke, then that’s fine.

I was walking down the street.

I wanted a cigarette so I stopped walking.

I sat down on a bench.

I smoked my cigarette and then stood up and continued walking.


When most people say this, they probably want to say something else.

Let’s investigate how we ‘should’ say it more accurately.



If you want to say you quit doing something, it’s most common to use a sentence more like this:

I stopped smoking.

STOP + ING Activity

  • He stopped drinking.

  • She stopped working.

  • They stopped eating junk.

You could also use

QUIT + ING Activity

  • I quit staying up late.

  • We quit going to the gym.

  • Jane quit biting her nails.

And here’s another way to say it

GAVE UP + ING Activity

  • He gave up gambling.

  • John gave up doing drugs.

  • She gave up snacking at work.

So let’s just recap the main points. To recap means to go over something again.

Stop + ING activity

Quit + ING activity

Give up + ING activity

Let me give you ONE POINT OF ADVICE. It’s about about using the verb QUIT.

I’m personally not a big fan of the verb quit. but this is just me personally.

I don’t know why, but a lot of my students choose this word. Possibly because it’s short and easy to remember.

However, I always think it sounds too harsh. By harsh I mean, it’s sort of too strong.

Like you’re angry or upset with something. But please remember, that’s just my personal opinion.



Let's take a look at 5 example sentences.

(1) He gave up doing heroin and went cold turkey. He’s been clean now for 6 months.

To go 'cold turkey' means to completely quit drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or sometimes even junk food. I’ve heard it’s a really hard time for addicts.

(2) His father stopped smoking after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

To be 'diagnosed with' means to be told by the doctor of your health problem.

(3) When we were driving around Hokkaido, we often stopped to take in some of the beautiful scenery.

To 'take in' means to look at something for a long time and enjoy the amazing scene.

(4) My student stopped learning English because she didn’t have enough money to pay for the fees.

The 'fee' is the amount of money you pay for a service or thing. For education, we use the term 'tuition fees.'

(5) Do you ever just stop to think about the question, ‘What am I doing in my life?’

Ooh! Now that’s a deep question for ya!



If you can understand the difference between 'stop to do something' and 'stop doing something' it will greatly increase the accuracy of your English. Please watch the VIDEO LESSON on YouTube!

Thanks for reading!







bite/chew your nails


snack on ~


recap the main points




go cold turkey


be diagnosed with ~


take in a beautiful view of ~


tuition fees


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