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I saw some scenarios that used the structure "to + V-ing", such as the following:

  • Looking forward to hearing.
  • Disposed to using few words.
  • I would like to apply what I learned in school to helping make more money.
  • This is the closest we have come to winning the league.

When can I use this structure? I'm confused about that.

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2  
What are you confused about? I'm having trouble figuring out what your question is. –  simchona Aug 23 '11 at 6:04
    
I'm wondering when I can use the structure to + v-ing. –  Thuan Aug 23 '11 at 6:09
    
    
@Thuan: What you call "the structure to + v-ing" is not a structure. To is a preposition, and like all prepositions it can take a gerund object. Disposed to using, exhausted from using, guilty of using, interested in using, talking about using, etc. They're just prepositional phrases. Why use to? Because the predicates look forward, disposed, apply, and come -- in these senses -- require the preposition to, that's why. Nothing special here, really. –  John Lawler Jun 28 at 17:16

2 Answers 2

In English, the form V + -ing is called a gerund if it serves as a noun. For example, the gerund form of "run" is "running". (I like cats, I like dogs, I like running). However, not all V + ing forms are gerunds--in "I am running", "running" is another verb.

This blog post explains that there are a few cases where you use to + V + -ing:

1) If the to is part of a phrasal verb or verb + preposition combination:

A phrasal verb is something like "look forward to", "confess to", etc. In this case, the "to" is part of the verb itself. Some examples are:

  • I am looking forward to attending the party
  • I am committed to supporting the Linguistics proposal on Area51

2) If the to is part of an adjective + preposition combination:

For example:

  • A lot of women aren’t accustomed to being treated so well!
  • I am opposed to increasing taxes.

These look similar to the examples above, but you can tell that a word like accustomed is an adjective in this case because there is a form of the verb to be. That is, you are an adjective.

3) If the to is part of a noun + preposition combination:

For example:

  • His addiction to gambling has caused a lot of stress for his family.
  • Her great dedication to teaching inspires her students.

Going through your examples, "I would like to apply what I learned in school to helping make more money" is incorrect, and doesn't fit into any of these categories (hat tip: Karl Knechtel).

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1  
"I would like to apply what I learned in school to helping make more money" sounds wrong to me, and as far as I can tell it doesn't fit in any of those listed categories, either. –  Karl Knechtel Aug 23 '11 at 7:56
    
@Karl: very true. Added a bit to my answer, with credit to you –  simchona Aug 23 '11 at 7:59
4  
I think this is a bit too complicated as it says the same thing three times over. In short: the gerund is used because to is a preposition in these cases (i.e. you need a noun after it, and out of all verb forms only the gerund can function as a noun). –  RegDwigнt Aug 23 '11 at 10:04
4  
Oh, and the third example fits just fine into the first category. (It's the "helping make more money" part that is strange, but the "apply X to <gerund>" part is perfectly grammatical.) –  RegDwigнt Aug 23 '11 at 10:07
3  
@RegDwight: Exactly. There's nothing wrong with the OP's example except for a stylistic flabbiness. –  Robusto Aug 23 '11 at 12:37

It's a bit tricky but you have to learn to tell whether the "To" is being used as (A.) part of an Infinitive or (B.) a Preposition.

Once you develop this skill, you can follow this:

Infinitive "To" = to + base verb

Preposition "To" = to + Noun, Pronoun, V+ing

Examples of Infinitive "To" are:

would like to + base verb

plan to + base verb

decide to + base verb

etc.

Examples of Preposition "To" are:

go to + Noun

look forward to + Noun/ V+ing

be used to + Noun/ V+ing

allergic to + Noun

etc.

Hope this helped!

;-)

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protected by Mitch May 28 '12 at 14:06

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