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From VOA Special English:

Scientists are also sharing work on crops in standing flooding. Mr. Ismail says this is important
to learning about what will help farmers use the wet soil of flooded fields for other crops such
as maize, wheat and barley.

Why is it "this is important to learning" instead of "this is important to learn"?

  • 1
    "Learning" is a gerund. See english.stackexchange.com/q/66/3306. – rajah9 Nov 25 '13 at 14:54
  • 1
    Everyone's answers are right, but I'd add that "to" is not a great choice of preposition in this context. "textbooks are important for learning"; "music is important to me". – Kaz Nov 25 '13 at 21:10
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"X is important to learn" would mean that it is important that you learn X.

"X is important to learning Y" would mean that in order to learn Y, X is important. In this case, in order to learn about what will help farmers use wet soil, the scientific work on crops in standing flooding is important.

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The construction is X is important to Y where X and Y are noun-phrases of some sort.

E.g.

The key to the safe is important to the security of your money.

X: The key to the safe
Y: The security of your money

learn about what will help farmers...

Is not the beginning of a noun phrase. Learn is the infinitive form.

Learning is a participle form, and can be used as the beginning of a noun phrase.

So if we had

Your twelve times table is important to learn about mathematics.

There to is the infinitive marker for learn and not a preposition (as it is in the phrase important to). So that breaks down into "Your twelve times table is important" and "to learn about mathematics" and is an example of elision: the more easily understandable sentence would be

Your twelve times table is important in order to learn about mathematics.

And the original should probably join the two parts with a comma.

However

Your twelve times table is important to learning about mathematics.

Breaks down into "Your twelve times table is important to" and "learning about mathematics", so is not eliding anything and doesn't need a comma.

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