When should we put -ing to verbs following preposition "to"?


- I look forward to reading your sentence.

- I want to go.

I'm confused.

1 2
"I look forward to..." has to be followed by a noun (as in "I look forward to lunch"). The "-ing" form of a verb can handily act as a noun, meaning "the act of doing whatever it is", and so can fit the sentence. The same goes for any sentence where a noun is required after "to" -- such as "I can't get used to being single again", "I admit to eating all the pies", etc.

"I look forward to read your sentence" is wrong because "read" can't act as a noun (at least, not in this sentence).

On the other hand, "I want to..." has to be followed by a verb infinitive. So, "I want to go" is correct, but "I want to going" is wrong. The same goes for any sentence where a verb infinitive is required. For example: "I can't begin to understand it", "He failed to finish the race", etc.

I don't know of any way to tell which constructions are in the first class and which in the second except by learning them individually. But if you know that the sentence will work with another noun -- for example, you know that "I look forward to lunch" is correct -- then that should tell you that the "-ing" form of the verb is required (famous last words...!)
See 'To' + 'ing'.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Mr Wordy"I look forward to..." has to be followed by a noun (as in "I look forward to lunch").
I realised later that "lunch" was a poor example to choose, because "to lunch" can sometimes be a verb. Oh well...

Want Bitcoin, but don't know how?

Join millions who have already discovered smarter strategies for investing in Bitcoin. Learn from experienced eToro traders or copy their positions automatically!

Unfortunately, there is no golden rule to learn them; as usual in life: JUST PRACTICE (read! as much as you can, and be attentive to grammar constructions, patterns, collocations, etc.)

Some examples of Base Verb + to + ING form:

- Resort to doing (or to do)
- Admit to doing
- Take to doing
- Confess to doing
- Get to doing

Check on a decent English-English dictionary for further details and exceptions.


An Alien of Cyber Space.
non-native English speaker, Australia, VIC
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
even if you are anonymous, to me this was the best answer on this page.
PS. another one is:
when it comes to + ING form. (i.d. when it comes to spending money, Matt is the best)
is play-is playing
I found an article in yahoo and the title is 'one secret to cooking an amazing steak' . Is it correct?
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Show more