English Grammar: How to use “to” before an “-ing” verb


Hi there. My name is Emma, and in today’s
video, we are going to talk about something many students wonder about, and
that is when we use “to” and “ing” together. Sorry. Okay, so for example… Yeah: “What???” Many
students, when they see this, it “poof” their minds; they have no idea: What is this? It goes against
all the rules they’ve learned. So I’m going to explain to you when this happens, and how we
can use it. So, let’s look at some examples. This is the most common
example of this you will see: “I look forward to meeting you.” Notice we have our verb: “look forward”, and
then we have this little guy, here, “to”, and then we also have “ing”.
Okay? So, in this case, it’s very strange.
We’re going to learn about why this is in a moment, but
before we do that, I want to tell you some of the basic rules so you can understand, first
off: What am I talking about with “ing”, and what am I talking
about with “to”? So let’s look at the basic rules. This is all
about when you have two verbs in a sentence. For example: “thank” is the first verb,
and “help” is the second verb. Okay? What you will notice in
English, the first rule is: Any time you have a preposition between
the first verb and the second, you’re going to use “ing”. A
preposition is a word like “for”, “to”, “about”, “toward”, “up”, “down”, “in”,
“out”, all of these words that kind of tell us where something is located, these are called
“prepositions”. So, whenever you see a preposition after a verb, this next verb
is going to end in “ing”. So our example here: “I
thank you for helping me.” Similarly, we have our verb: “interested”,
“I’m interested”, so this is the verb. And we have a second verb: “learn”. So, if we
have a preposition after the first verb: “I’m interested in”, you’re going to see that
the second verb is going to end in “ing”. “I’m interested in
learning English.” So we don’t say: “I’m interested
in to learn English.” Similarly, we don’t say:
“I thank you to help me.” If you have a
preposition like “for”, “in”, “out”, you are going to
have the second verb with “ing”. Okay, some verbs… These are
verbs without prepositions. If we have two verbs and there’s no preposition between them, they will be
either verb with a second verb ending in “ing”, or a verb plus the second
verb beginning in “to”. So let’s look at some examples so you
understand what I’m talking about. Okay, I have here the verb “enjoy”.
Here’s my first verb. Think of a second verb we can use.
Let’s say “eat”. With the verb “enjoy”, the verb
that follows is always going to end in “ing”. “I enjoy eating.”, “I enjoy reading.”, “I enjoy
listening to music.”, “I enjoy shopping.” Okay? So, in this case, all… The
second verb will always end in “ing”. We have another example,
here: “I started”. “I started”, let’s think of
a verb, any verb. “Fish”. “I started fishing.” So, again, this is
the first verb, here’s the second verb, second verb ends in “ing”. I en-…
Or: “I started drinking.”, “I started eating
my dinner.” Okay? Then we also have some verbs that you will
see… Here’s the first verb: “decided”. The second verb does not end in “ing”. “I
decided to”, what’s a verb we can use here? “Watch”. “I decided to watch TV.” Okay? “I want to eat ice cream.” So, in this case, we have two verbs-so
verb one, verb two; verb one, verb two -the second verb begins
with the word “to”. Now, other teachers on engVid have
already covered this information. What you will notice is that some verbs are always
like this, some verbs are always like this, and some verbs do both. It’s pretty much you have to memorize: When
is it “ing”…? Sorry. “ing”, and when is it “to”? What we’re really interested in
today is this, this really confusing thing: Why is it “ing” and “to”?
All right? So let’s look at some more
examples of this, and I will tell you the rule on when
we use “ing” and “to” together. Okay, so I’ve explained to you the three rules
we use when we have two verbs together. Okay? Sometimes you have a verb followed by “ing”,
sometimes you have a verb followed by “to”, and in the case of prepositions, you have a
verb followed by “ing”. So I’ve taught you these three rules. Now we’re going to look at
when we have both “ing” and “to” together. Okay? So, “ing” and
“to” together. So in this case, we have two verbs. The
first verb is: “I look forward to”. The second verb is: “meeting”.
Okay? So we have two verbs. In this case, “to” is
acting as a preposition. Okay? So just like what we said before
with “up”, “down”, “in”, “out”, in this case, “to” is a preposition.
This is actually a phrasal verb. It’s actually almost
like it’s the same verb. “To” is a part of “look forward”. You
can’t have: “I look forward meeting”. No. “To” is a part of the verb. So, in this case
because it’s a phrasal verb and “to” is a preposition, “meeting”
is going to have “ing”. Another way to look at this is if
you look at this next example: “I look forward to ice cream.” In this case, we only have one verb. We
have “look forward to”, this is the verb, “ice cream”. We don’t have a second
verb; instead, we have a noun. This is fine. This is the test you can do.
If “to” can be followed only by a noun, then we know that it’s actually a part of the verb. Okay? So: “I look forward to ice cream.”
I can do this with “to”, but I can’t say: “I hope to ice cream.” In this
case, this does not work; “to” is separate, so we… It’s separate from “hope”, so
we could say instead: “I hope to eat”, you’d need to add a verb, here.
“I need to eat ice cream.” So in this case, “to” is a part
of it, it’s a preposition; in this case, when we have two
verbs, “to” is separating them. So they’re two different cases. Let’s look at some
more examples. “You will get used
to living here.” We have the verb “get used to”, it’s considered like one chunk: “get
used to”. It’s a phrasal verb. And then we have our second verb. “You will get used to living
here.” We have “to” and we also have “ing”. In this case, “to” is a preposition,
and that’s why it is followed by a verb with “ing”. “Get used to” means to become accustomed
to. Okay? So, for example, some of my students have come to Canada, and at first the cold is
very terrible in the wintertime, they hate the cold, but they get used to it, and then
the cold is no problem; they get accustomed to it. Again, just like with this, we
could change this to a noun. I could say: “You will get used to winter.”, “You will get used to English.” Or I can have a verb.
Both are possible, so we know that this is a chunk. We have another
example: Judge Judy. “Judge Judy objects to lying.” “Objects” means she gets angry, she does not approve;
she disapproves of lying. So, again, we have “to” and we have “ing” together. The verb is “objects to”, it’s one unit.
And “lying” is our second verb. Okay? A third example: “I resorted
to stealing.” Okay? “I resorted to stealing.” or “I confessed to stealing.” If you resort to something, it means
although you didn’t really want to do it, you had to do it. So, for example,
imagine I have a big test and I know I’m going to fail, so I decide to cheat.
I resorted to cheating. Usually we resort to
doing something bad. So: “I resorted to stealing.” Again,
we have “to”, and we have “ing”. The reason we have both is
“resorted” and “to” are a unit; they go together. They
always go together, so we can’t say: “I resort stealing”,
it’s always: “I resorted to stealing.” Same with the word “confess”. If you confess to
something, it means you tell someone what you did wrong. Okay, so: “I confessed to stealing.”
So, again, just like “resorted to”, “confessed to”, it’s one unit. Okay? So these words go together.
“To”, in this case, is a proposition, “confess to” is a phrasal verb, so afterwards,
“stealing” is going to end in “ing”. Okay, our final example: “I’m opposed to living
in Antarctica.” This means: “I’m against
living in Antarctica.” I don’t know why I’m against it. I mean,
I guess I hate the cold, although I love penguins.
I’m going to say: “I’m opposed to living
in Antarctica.” Now, “I’m opposed to”, it’s a unit; it goes together. It’s a phrasal
verb. So, this means that it’s a verb that always has “to”
as a preposition. So, because “to” is a
preposition, the verb afterwards is going to have “ing”. So: “I’m opposed to
living in Antarctica.”, “I’m opposed to
drinking and driving.”, “I’m opposed to
doing drugs.” Okay? So, again, I could
even get rid of this and use a noun, I could say:
“I’m opposed to drugs.”, “I’m opposed to doing drugs.” All right, so again, key here: Sometimes we
have “to” and “ing” together between a verb. We do this when we have “to” as a phrasal
verb, and “to” is acting as a preposition. All right, so I hope you come visit
our website at www.engvid.com. There, you can do a quiz to make sure that
you understand this video, and that you have mastered the
concepts in it. You’ll also see a lot more examples
of when we use “to” and “ing”. So until next time, thank you
for watching and take care.

100 thoughts on “English Grammar: How to use “to” before an “-ing” verb

  1. Question: ‘Be supposed to’ is a phrasal verb but it is not followed by ‘ing’ verb.

  2. Teacher I have a question. Can I say : I am opposed to taking drugs? I am opposed to smoking?

  3. I was scrolling through a game review and I came across this line: "Though he never asked for such power, he now holds the key to saving the world."

    Why do we have the "-ing" suffix here? Is"Hold the key to" a phrasal verb or something?

    I know this video is old but i'd appreciate a helping hand!

  4. Thanks a lot for your videos! With love and respect from Russia.

  5. To + ing is so confusing, but I think I finally understand it. Thank you, very useful video! 🙂

  6. Thank you Emma, this’s a great lesson. However, I’m quite confused about the last sentence ‘I’m opposed to living…’. Could you explain why did you use ‘am’ there, if ‘oppose to’ is a phrasal verb? Or does this need to be used as a passive form? Thank you.

  7. My daughter likes your teaching; Thank you, M'm.

  8. The subject is very well explained and the examples are very good, greetings!

  9. Good morning teacher we’re you gonna teaching us slang words

  10. excellent lesson, very well explained only by suggestion would be very good that you put subtitles

  11. Thank you, for this wonderful video! It helped me so much.
    And I have a question.

    His deep development background coupled with his dedication to forging consensus will help breathe new life into the World Bank's efforts to secure fast economic growth widely shared.

    From the above sentence,
    "with his dedication to forging consensus"

    dedication being a noun, how is this still possible as to+verb+ing?

  12. Thanks for your clear explanation about the points i rlly did struggle 👍🏻🥰 then , can anybody explain this sentence please? -here it is — ‘ the key to connecting with others is showing genuine interest in them ‘ why is it following -ing in this sentence?

  13. We thank Emma for helping us in learning English.
    We look forward to meeting Emma.
    We are used to learning English here.
    I confessed to not getting everything though.

  14. Okay.
    My online teacher, you are my best teacher who makes me understand the lessons you provide.

  15. English is a beautiful language, but we have to confess that sometimes the language can be so tricky and hard to understand. I know it's part of the process to acquiring a second language.

  16. What about "mandated?" Is it "I am mandated to overseeing people?" or "I am mandated to oversee people?"

  17. For this, u must understand Infinitive, and gerund …(type of non action verbs )

  18. The boy went home to laughing.
    The girl came home to dancing.

    Is it correct?

  19. Hello Emma are you very good teather I learn ENGLISH by YouTube but I understad you very good I Hope you are well

  20. My teacher l whant to ask you that can l say (l went to home to having a meal (

  21. I am afraid.. Why shouldn't we speak the sentence (I enjoy eating) as I enjoy to eat.. Ha..

  22. You and Adam are the best online-English-teachers for my taste. I enjoy very much listening to you. Above all because of your nice personalities and even better your spelling is very clean so I can understand rather easily and have the feeling to be yet skilled in English… Thanks.

  23. Thank you so much … I have an exam today in this subject and I didn't understand . But now I understand all things about this subject 💛🌝😭
    Cute 😭💛

  24. “Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston Churchill.
    Thank you so much. Now I understand that how it is grammatically right. "Key to" is a phrasal verb.

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