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TO: preposition or infinitive
It is undoubtedly one of the most difficult obstacles that make you stumble in conversation...
"Which construction should I use after this verb: an infinitive, or "an -ing form"?
Of course, there are rules to guide you in your choice... but also many particularities
that we will revise here...
1) If some verbs are followed by another verb, it must be put in the complete infinitive form:
To want to buy/ to afford to buy... To intend to do something
|To want||to appear|
|To offer||to claim|
|To choose||to consent|
|To decide||to decline|
|To hope||to demand|
|To plan||to deserve|
|To promise||to happen|
|would like||to intend|
|to learn||To resolve|
|to afford||To tend to|
|to agree||To struggle|
|to ask||To swear|
|to expect||To volunteer|
|to prepare||To wait|
|to refuse||To wish|
|to guarantee|| To desire |
BEWARE: you also tend to "forget" : to try
It may be followed either by an infinitive or by an - ing form.
To struggle to do something.
- If you want to help her, don't interfere.
- I can't afford to buy these boots, they're too expensive.
- I expect you to be respectful and silent.
- He'll choose to come during the holiday, not for a weekend...
- You hope to receive your order tomorrow.
In all the constructions above, the particle "TO" is part of the infinitive form after it.
To volunteer to do something...
Yet, and you know it, "TO" is also a preposition which is then followed by a nominal
group, a noun (or a pronoun).
- Like everyday at the same time, he was walking to his office.
* You have been told - and it's true - that prepositions are followed by an -ing verb.
- I feel like going home.
- He left without saying goodbye.
Therefore "TO" is one of the particles followed by an -ing form (or gerund)
2) A lot of verbs are followed by TO (preposition) and are then
necessarily followed by a gerund.
|To admit (to) + V ing||To be committed to + V ing|
|To confess to doing||To be accustomed to + V ing|
|To be devoted to (doing)||To adjust to + V ing|
|To be dedicated to + V ing||To object to + V ing|
|To get around to + V ing||an objection to + V ing|
|To look forward to + V ing||To be opposed to + V ing|
|When it comes to + V ing...||To be used to + V ing|
A few examples:
- We are all strictly opposed to cheating at exams...
- Mary is totally devoted to helping the destitute.
- You'll have to adjust to working in a team.
- I can't get used to coming to work by bus... It's terrible!
- Lucy finally got around to tidying up her room!
Oh yes, they are many, but the only reasonable solution is to remember them...
For the difference between "USED TO" and "TO BE USED TO", please, see test.
Please, do this exercise slowly, thinking carefully in order to distinguish the function of "TO". Then, choose
which form you'll use. You're most likely to succeed with flying colours...
You can do it! Go for it with THE FORCE!
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