I find trouble to distinguish when to employ -ing or infinitive in certain cases. Have a look at the examples I came across on a book: - Discover the secret to getting through to anyone. - 7 steps to living at your full potential.

Based on that, I wonder if it's correct to say: discover the secret to GET, and 7 steps to LIVE. Why to use -ing after the preposition "to" in such cases? I know some verbs have the ing- form such as: look forward, dedicate, commit; but I've never seen "to getting" or "to living" after a noun as "secret" ot "steps".

I'm grateful in advance!

  • 1
    The present participle (...ing form) is idiomatic in the examples you give. Discover the secret of living happily; but discover how to live happily.
    – WS2
    May 2 '15 at 15:59

The justification for using a participle with "to" is that "to" here is a preposition which is followed by a noun, namely "getting" or "living". It is not meant as the infinitive "to". And if it were, a different construction would be called for:

  • Discover the secret of how to get through to anyone.

  • Seven steps to help you {live up to/attain} your full potential

(live/living at your potential sounds odd)

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