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I have a question on preposition ‘to’.

When we use verb after ‘to’ we use either infinitives or verb in ing format but my question is:

  1. will the word ‘to’ be a preposition in both the case? also,

  2. verb in ing format is Gerund right? and

  3. is infinitive a verb?

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  • What research have you done?
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 10:18
  • [grammar corrections: Is the word "to" a preposition in both cases? Are all verbs with ing gerunds?]
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 15:50

2 Answers 2

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You said: "When we use verb after ‘to’ we use either infinitives or verb in ing format." This is incorrect - you can't have "to" followed by an -ing participle. You can't say "to seeing".

(It is possible to concoct sentences where "to"+participle is valid, e.g. "I want to get back to being me." But "to" here doesn't fulfil the same role as it does when it marks an infinitive.)

It is true that infinitives and -ing participles can be used in similar ways in some cases (compare "I like to play" with "I like playing").

To

The "to" that comes before an infinitive isn't a preposition. It is an infinitive marker.

-ing

Traditional grammars distinguish two classes of -ing words - participles (which act like adjectives) and gerunds (which act like nouns). However, neither of the two major English grammar books of recent decades consider this a useful distinction. Quirk, Greenbaum et al. (A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language) use the term "-ing participle" to encompass the full range of uses of the "-ing" form of the verb, whilst Huddleston & Pullum (The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language) use the term "gerund-participle" in the same way.

Infinitives

You asked whether the infinitive is a verb. Yes, the infinitive is a form of the verb. All non-modal verbs have infinitives. The infinitive may appear with "to" (as in "I want to see it"), or it may be a bare infinitive without "to" (as in "I can see it").

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will the word ‘to’ be a preposition in both the case? also,

To is a preposition in any case.

verb in ing format is Gerund right? and

-ing words can be either gerunds (noun-like) or present participles (adjective/adverb-like). If you substitute "X-ing" for "to X", then it's a gerund.

is infinitive a verb?

Infinitives/gerunds are called verbals because they share properties of both nouns and verbs. They fit into slots in sentences where nouns are expected.

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    The "to" that occurs in infinitival clauses is a member of the category (part of speech) 'subordinator'. It's function in the clause is that of 'marker'.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 13:37
  • What are some other examples of subordinators?
    – LawrenceC
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 19:54
  • I don't call to a subordinator. I call it a function word, as defined here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Function_word They are considered to be a "closed class" of words as new ones do not usually spring up in a language.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 15:47
  • Whatever you call it (I call it an infinitive marker or an infinitive-marking particle), it shouldn't be considered a preposition.
    – rjpond
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 19:16

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