The dog stayed under the shade. He was not sure whether to trust the dog of doing anything.

The dog stayed under the shade. He was not sure whether to trust the dog to doing anything.

In another post (link), it is mentioned that "of" is descriptive and "to" is prescriptive, but I'm still not sure which to use given my context.


1 Answer 1


In this case you can only use "trust to do". There should be an infinitive, not a gerund after "trust".

"to doing" is only possible if "to" is a preposition, but here it is a particle. And "trust of doing" is only possible if "trust" is a noun, but here it is a verb.

Edit. Usually, when we have two consecutive non-auxiliary verbs, while the first verb can have any form (past simple, past participle etc), the second verb can only take an infinitive form (decide to do, promise to call) or a gerund form (love listening, hate driving), with a few exception when you have to use a so-called "bare" infinitive (make do, let go).

Sometimes a change of forms leads to a change of meaning (stop smoking and stop to smoke are two completely different things).

Unfortunately, there isn't a simple method to guess which verb is followed by which form of the next verb, although there have been attempts to find a logical explanation - all of which have made the situation even more confusing. For example, there was an explanation in Raymond Murphy's second edition of Grammar in Use, which was omitted by at least the fourth edition (I have never owned the third one).

Similarly, it's often difficult to memorize the prepositions which follow certain verbs. Why do people say in English "listen to music" while in Russian it's "слушать музыку" (/slushat muzyku/, accusative case without a preposition)? Why is it in English "it depends on smth", but "ça dépend de qch" in French (/sa depahn deh/, literally "it depends from/of smth")?

However, it's the only case when "to doing" is possible.

I prefer doing something to doing nothing - there the verb prefer is followed by the preposition "to" and/or the gerund.

  • 1
    +1 You might add that what sort or sorts of complement is acceptable is determined by the verb, trust, and that each verb "licenses" specific sorts of complement. There is no predictable pattern: each verb's complements must be learned separately. Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 17:07
  • @StoneyB thanks! Should I edit my answer and add this information? I'm still figuring out the way ELU works Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 17:59
  • You're free to steal anything you want in a comment! --if you agree that it would make the answer more 'generalizable', by all means include it. Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 19:58

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