Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This may be a very easy question to many of you and may not deserve to be here. But it has been bothering me for a long time..

Should I add ing behind the verb after proceed to just like how it should be after look forward to?

Now proceed to writing on the paper.

Or should I just express it this way?

Now proceed to write on the paper.

share|improve this question
That's an interesting question. I think the parsing's different, and certainly there are contexts where one would work and the other wouldn't, in both cases. –  John Lawler Jul 26 '12 at 17:29
Can you give more context? In what situation is the sentence being used? What immediately precedes it? –  Barrie England Jul 26 '12 at 17:41
@BarrieEngland Sure. Sorry for not being specific enough. In this case the sentence is used as an instruction given to someone, who has completed the previous task, to move on to the next assignment. –  user19341 Jul 27 '12 at 7:56
It would still help to see the surrounding text, but perhaps you've had an adequate answer by now. –  Barrie England Jul 27 '12 at 8:01
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 0 down vote accepted

That is an interesting question, and I think the answer is that it depends. In the example you provided, I think both phrases could be considered correct, though I would definitely prefer the second one, because it reads much more logically to me.

'Now proceed to write on the paper' sounds like a command being given to someone in the present, telling them to begin the process of writing on the paper. Meanwhile, the first phrase sounds like you're telling someone to perform an action that is already being performed.

The way that I can see this working is if the person is already performing an action, and you're asking them to move on to another action: they were jumping on the fence, and you ask them to proceed to singing on the fence.

If you change the structure of the phrase to include the word 'begin', it reads a little better as well (I say 'a little' for a reason, since this is pretty bulky and awkward):

Now proceed to begin writing on the paper.

Overall, I find the usage of the '-ing' to be pretty awkward on the whole, and I'd say when in doubt, don't insert it. But it definitely can be used in some circumstances.

share|improve this answer
add comment

In the first case, to is a preposition. Accordingly, the phrase proceed to means to make progress by moving to the next stage in a series of actions or events, or to move in a particular direction.

http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/proceed http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/proceed

Therefore, in my opinion, a more suitable sentence would be:

Now, proceed with writing on the paper.

In the second case, to is the part of the infinitive to write, and describes the action you have in mind (take a look at proceed to do something), though, it is used sometimes to express surprise or annoyance.

share|improve this answer
"To" as a preposition indicates "writing" the next stage in a series. Its use would be appropriate given that context. Using "with" gives "proceed" an additional connotation, that of beginning or resuming an action. (e.g. "Since you cleaned the toilet you may proceed with playing your video games.") "To" emphasizes the series while "with" stresses the beginning/resumption. Without knowing the surrounding context it is difficult to judge which word is more suitable in the OP's example. –  Pantalones Jul 27 '12 at 3:40
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.