"He posted the steps to operating the machine on his blog"

Hi, I'd like to know why the verb, "operate" is in -ing and not simply "operate" when there's the preposition, "to" prior to it

Thank you
1 2
"Operating" in your sentence is a gerund, it's not a verb. This construction is the same as the following one

The key to speaking good English is constant practice. (the "to" is a preposition attached to the noun key , it's not attached to "speaking"; the to in your sentence is thus attached to the steps, not to "operating")
Is it because it is an exception due to some of the prior nouns such as steps and key found in the sentences?

Or do the whole operating the machine and speaking good english part work as noun as a whole?
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Ivanhr"Operating" in your sentence is a gerund, it's not a verb. This construction is the same as the following one The key to speaking good English is constant practice. (the "to" is a preposition attached to the noun key , it's not attached to "speaking"; the to in your sentence is thus attached to the steps, not to "operating")
Sorry to disagree, Ivanhr. I see the expression "to speaking good English" as a preposition phrase introduced by the prep "to", with the underlined constituent a non-finite gerund clause as its complement. "Speaking" is a verb (not a noun) because it's functioning as a verb, as can be seen by the fact that it takes a direct object, "good English". Only verbs take direct objects.

BillJ
GuyperIs it because it is an exception due to some of the prior nouns such as steps and key found in the sentences?Or do the whole operating the machine and speaking good English part work as noun as a whole?
No, these are both gerund clauses where "operating" and "speaking" are functioning as verbs. You can tell they are verbs because they have "the machine" and "good English" as their objects. Nouns don't have direct objects.

BillJ
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Guyper"He posted the steps to operating the machine on his blog"

Hi, I'd like to know why the verb, "operate" is in -ing and not simply "operate" when there's the preposition, "to" prior to it
You're saying "the preposition 'to'" in reference to the combination "to operate". This is not correct.
"to" is not a preposition in that case, but part of an infinitive.

As it turns out, "to" is a preposition in that sentence, and that is exactly why the -ing form is used. After a preposition, the -ing form is the correct form - if you're going to use a verb form there. You don't want an infinitive there.

See 'To' + 'ing' and follow the links from there.

By the way, I think I would have written, "the steps for operating the machine". Here it should be even more obvious to you that a preposition (for) should be followed by an -ing form if you want a verb form there. You wouldn't say "the steps for operate the machine", would you?

CJ
BillJ
Ivanhr"Speaking" is a verb (not a noun) because it's functioning as a verb, as can be seen by the fact that it takes a direct object, "good English". Only verbs take direct objects. BillJ
BillJ, are you saying that gerunds can't take direct objects? If so, could you comment on the following sentence

I like making people happy.

According to the article found at the link below, "making" is a gerund and it still takes a direct object (people).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerund

If I may butt in, I believe BillJ is objecting to this comment of yours:

"Operating" in your sentence is a gerund, it's not a verb.

BillJ is saying that what you call a gerund is a verb if I understood him correctly. And if what you call a gerund is a verb and a verb can take a direct object, then what you call a gerund can take a direct object.

That aside, if you analyze the language closely, you'll see that BillJ only talks about "gerund clauses", not about "gerunds", so it looks as if in BillJ's system of terminology maybe there is no such thing as a gerund (i.e., what you call a gerund = the -ing word itself), but only gerund clauses. In short, I don't know if these two expressions refer to the same thing:

what you call a gerund

what BillJ calls a gerund (if anything)

CJ
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