when I was young I wasn't from the English area but I am used to learning English grammar already. Well , I am still thinking about one thing maybe because I had not even got to learn this grammar until I have realized that is such use in English . Nobody has even said to me that an -ing form can be added after the "to" in actually . What I used to learn was all about the infinitives (base verbs) only . I have seen and gone through the post in this webpage but I still cannot understand about it. So what can I actually do so that I can always be able to identify the differences about those situations hence I must able to make it clear about whether to put a gerund or a base verb after that particular "to" ? =(


Only if you can put [to + noun] after a certain verb would you usually use [to + verb-ing] when using a gerund. The reason is that a gerund functions like a noun, so it can regularly be replaced with a noun. An asterisk indicates a sentence that is not grammatical.

*She likes to eggs.
*She likes to eating.

She consented to an evacuation.
She consented to evacuating the area.

Note that the first group of verbs is far more common than the last, so [to + verb-ing] is uncommon.

  • Nice concise answer. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 12 '13 at 22:02
  • Mismatcher brain in overdrive. She applied to the board =/=> she applied to boarding. I'd better post an answer. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 12 '13 at 22:15

Following on from Cerberus's answer (and ignoring travel verbs such as go / walk / drive / travel):

These verbs are commonly followed by the preposition ‘to’:

       answer to (someone) 
       appeal to (someone or someone's affections)
       apply to (something)              
       react to (something)

but don't commonly accept a [doing something] object (?) for the preposition.

These verbs do:

       apply oneself to [doing] something     
       aspire to [doing] something 
       attend to [doing] something 
       be resigned to [doing] something
       commit oneself to [doing] something 
       confess to [doing] something
       devote oneself to [doing] something 
       react to [doing] (something)
       refer to [doing] (something)
       resort to [doing] something
       see to [doing] something
       subject someone to [doing] something 
       turn to [doing] something)
  • If you demand that a verb be used that requires a "to someone", then by definition no gerund is possible, because gerunds, unlike corporations, are not people. But this is a semantic problem rather than a syntactic one. Unlike answer to and appeal to, however, I don't see a problem with apply and react: this law does not apply to killing a murderer; she reacted badly to losing her brother. – Cerberus Nov 13 '13 at 3:27
  • Oh, I see I forgot to +1 you. Good examples. – Cerberus Nov 13 '13 at 12:15
  • Yes, I was so busy trying to straighten out the formatting I lost track of the actual content. I've got react to in both classes, though I missed the apply to [doing] something, with that sense for 'apply'. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 14 '13 at 0:33
  • Ah, I didn't even realise you had react in both classes! – Cerberus Nov 14 '13 at 0:56

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