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I would like to understand when to use the gerund form of a verb after "to." I had in my mind that every verb used after "to" was in its infinitive form, like for example:

  1. It is hard to play the piano when your fingers are cold.
  2. Call me if you decide to buy those pants.

However, I have come across sentences where this logic is not followed; for example:

  1. I got used to reading in the bus.
  2. He went back to studying mathematics.

This is getting me very confused, so I need some help with this.

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, choster, KarlG, Nigel J, Gigili May 29 '18 at 22:47

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Do you know the way to San Jose? Now there's a sentence which contains a to but no infinitive of a verb.

Your second group are a bit like that. The gerund is a noun (from a verb). So saying I got used to reading is grammatically no different to saying I got used to Michael.

Or He went back to studying just like He went back to Minneapolis.

But the infinitive is a different construction altogether, where the to precedes not a noun but a verb. In your first two examples one cannot substitute anything but a verb after the to.


There are certain expressions that take to + ing.

Here are some examples:

admit to: He admitted to stealing the money.

allude to: He alluded to being frightened.

amount to: Telling a half truth amounts to lying.

as an alternative to: As an alternative to driving, walking is recommended.

as a reaction to: He went into a rage as a reaction to being fired.

attach great importance to: Teachers attach great importance to writing tests.

attitude to: His attitude to eating is "eat to live, not live to eat".

attribute to: He attributed his success to making good investments.

accustom oneself to: be accustomed to: become/get accustomed to: He's accustomed to getting up early.

be agreeable to: He's agreeable to meeting on Friday.

be an obstacle to: Poverty is an obstacle to getting ahead in life.

(not) be averse to: He is not averse to telling lies to get what he wants.

be close to: The police are close to discovering who the thief is.

be committed to: He is committed to doing his best. commit oneself to:

be confined to: He confines himself to smoking one cigarette a day. confine oneself to:

(not) be conducive to: Noise is not conducive to studying.

be dedicated to: He is dedicated to helping the poor. dedicate oneself to:

be devoted to: He is devoted to helping the poor. devote oneself to: He devotes himself to helping the poor.
devote time to: He devotes time to helping the poor.

be given to: He is given to shouting when he is angry.

be limited to: limit oneself to: He limits himself to smoking one cigarette a day.

be looking forward to: He's looking forward to meeting you. look forward to:

be near to: The police are near to discovering who the thief is.

be opposed to: He is opposed to bringing back the death penalty.

be on one's way to: He's on his way to becoming a star.

be preferable to: Eating home cooked food is preferable to eating out.

be reconciled to: He's reconciled to living alone.

be resigned to: He's resigned to accepting his illness.

be the key to: Hard work is the key to succeeding in life.

be the secret to: Hard work is the secret to succeeding in life.

be/get/become used to: He's used to getting up early.

can't swear to: The witness couldn't swear to having seen the accused commit the crime.

come close/near to: He came close to being run over by a bus.

confess to: He confessed to committing the crime.

consent to: He consented to paying for the dinner.

contribute to: Loud music contributes to suffering loss of hearing.

due to: He got cancer due to smoking too much.

get round to: I must get round to answering those emails.

fall to: After being fired, he fell to wondering how he would survive.

feel up to: I don't feel up to walking there; let's take a taxi.

go back to When the baby was born, he went back to wetting his bed.

go a long way to; Love goes a long way to dealing with problems.

have a repugnance to: He has a repugnance to being touched.

in addition to: In addition to singing, he writes music.

lead to: His performance led to being nominated for best actor in a drama

move nearer to: Scientists are moving nearing to discovering a cure for AIDS.

object to: He objects to my smoking.

open the door to: Genetic research has opened the door to understanding hereditary diseases.

own up to: He will never own up to lying.

prefer (ing) to (ing): He prefers staying in to going out.

prior to: Lock the door prior to leaving.

refer to: As an example of domestic violence, she referred to his beating her up.

resort to: Being poor, he resorted to stealing to survive.

restrict oneself to: He restricts himself to smoking one cigarette a day.

revert to: When his baby sister was born, he reverted to wetting the bed.

see no alternative to: He could see no alternative to resigning.

share a commitment to: They share a commitment to helping the poor.

stick to: He should stick to acting; he doesn't have a good voice.

stoop to: He would never stoop to cheating at cards.

(not) take kindly to: He doesn't take kindly to being given advice.

take to: After being promoted, he took to ordering everyone around.

There are drawbacks to: There are drawbacks to living in the country.

There is more to: There is more to modelling than one would think.

There is not much to: There is not much to cooking, as long as you follow the basic recipe.

The trick to: The trick to succeeding in life is looking at the glass half full.

turn to: When he was nervous, he would turn to having a drink.

with a view to: He moved to the countryside with a view to living a healthier lifestyle.

with regard to: With regard to watching TV, I believe children should be allowed some freedom.

when it comes to: When it comes to showing affection, women are more demonstrative.

What do you say to: What do you say to going to the movies?

  • Any reference / link to the source, please? – Zeeshan Ali Jan 23 at 6:11

The verb tense is different in the first set as opposed to the second set. In the first set the verb "is" is present so the subsequent verb in the verb-object construction takes the infinitive form. In the second set the verb forms are past participles and the gerunds actually take the form of the object in the sentence as a gerund+object form. So, I (subject) got used (verb) to playing the piano (gerund+object). So in a compound sentence, a good rule of thumb is if the verb form is present then the verb in the following verb-object construction will take the form of an infinitive. If the verb is a past-participle then the following verb in the verb-object construction will take the form of a gerund.

This page is helpful: https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verbs-gerunds_1.htm

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