This site says:

I look forward to hearing from you. (correct)

I look forward to hear from you. (wrong)

I think "I look forward to something" not "I look forward to do something".

However, "to" can be used to show purpose.

Ex: He is looking for a part time job to save some pocket money. = He is looking for a part time job in order to save some pocket money.

Can this sentence "I look forward" make any sense?

If it makes sense, then we can just put "to" to show purpose. Ex: I look forward in order to (or: to) hear from you.

So, is that teacher wrong?

  • I would have explained it with "in order to" as well. In that case, to look doesn't really seem suitable in the literal sense in combination with to hear. "I look forward to your reply" seems an apt nominalization of to hear. Hearing seems crude in comparison.
    – Hector von
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 13:42
  • What does "in order to" have to do with "look forward to"? Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 13:59
  • @Hectorvon "In order to" is a subordinating conjunction. We use "in order to" with an infinitive form of a verb to express the purpose of something. You can also google "In order for". Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


Cambridge explains it plainly:

Look forward to something means to be pleased or excited that it is going to happen. The ‘to’ in look forward to is a preposition, so we must follow it by a noun phrase or a verb in the -ing form:

  • We’re looking forward to going to Switzerland next month.
  • I’m looking forward to the holidays.

If the second verb has a different subject, we use the object form of the pronoun, not the subject form:

  • We’re looking forward to him arriving next week. (Not: We’re looking forward to he arriving next week)

We also use look forward to at the end of formal letters and formal emails to say that we hope to hear from someone or expect that something will happen. We use the present simple form:

  • I look forward to your reply.
  • I look forward to hearing from you soon.

"Look forward to" has a pattern: I look forward to [a thing you would like to happen]:

  • I look forward to [hearing] from you. "Hearing" is an action [thing] I would like to happen.
  • I look forward to [hear] from you. "Hear" is not a thing.

There is a slight difference between:

  • I am looking forward to...
  • I look forward to...

As for the question whether to use “I look forward to” or “I am looking forward to”, some people consider the two completely interchangeable, but most find the phrase with “look forward to” somewhat formal and best suited for formal correspondence, whereas “to be looking forward to” is more informal and friendly.

To notice:

"To" is a preposition in this construction, and since it is a preposition, it should be followed by an object. The object of a preposition can be either a noun, a pronoun, or a gerund (VERB+ing functioning as a noun).

If you use verb without "ing" than "to" is an infinitive:

  • I look forward to [to hear] from you. That is absolutely incorrect!

There are more verbs that cannot be followed by an infinitive:

  • anticipating, imagining, foreseeing, regretting...
  • 1
    "action [thing]", alright. "To him arriving" is awful, why not "his arrival", which is the actual nominalization of "to arrive", whereas "ariving" is a participle. The gerund is a different construction. And why can't a verb be the object of a preposition, anyway, for example in an *infinitive phrase?
    – Hector von
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 14:28

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