I am confused about the use of "to + infinitive" and "to + 'gerund' "


1 Yesterday I went to study.

2 Yesterday I went to studying.

Is either incorrect or less preferable?

  • 1
    The second doesn't work here. 'Yesterday I went to study / sing' means that you went to a place you have in mind in order to carry out what you mention. 'Yesterday I went to singing / fencing' is an accepted informal way of saying 'Yesterday I went to the singing/fencing lesson/club/activity ...'. But even if a school say used 'studying' as a title for an organised session, it is non-standard and would need scare quotes and an explanation. Feb 21, 2018 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


The second sentence does not make sense. You can use to+gerund but "to" must be a part of a combination, for example, you can not say: I want to going.

We usually see to+gerund in these cases:

  1. "to" is a part of phrasal verb.
    Let's say: I look forward to meeting her

Note: not every "verb+preposition" is phrasal verb. A phrasal verb is when the preposition changes the meaning of the main verb.

  1. "to" is part of an "adj+preposition".
    For example: I am committed to improving my skillsI am devoted to helping people

  2. "to" is part of "noun+preposition".
    Examples: his reaction to winningHer great dedication to teaching.

In the first sentence, you mentioned "to + basic form of the verb" is used. It is called infinitive.

Infinitives are used in the following ways:

  1. to complete the meaning of the verb.

Example: the child started to cry

  1. to complete the meaning of adjectives.

Example: he seems anxious to leave

  1. to show purpose and reason.

Example: he works overtime to earn extra money

  1. after expressions with too.

Example: she may be too tired to go

  1. after expressions with enough.

Example: she was not strong enough to lift the box

  1. to describe skill ability with how.

Example: she has learned how to sew

  1. after information words (what, which, where, how, etc), infinitives instead of noun clauses may be used. Compare these two sentences below.
    a) I don't know which road I should take.
    b) I don't know which road to take.

  2. as a subject or as an object.words that are combined with infinitive form an infinitive phrase.

Example: to tease animals is cruel.• His job is to lock the windows and doors

  1. in sentences with it as a subject, it refers to the infinitive. compare these 2 sentences:

a) To get eight hours sleep each night is not always possible

b) It is not always possible to get eight hours' sleep each night.

Note: there are other forms of infinitives too, one of them is called "continuous infinitive". It is used to emphasize the continuing sense of an action.

Example: she is delighted to be studying art with famous artists.

(For more information in this case you can check "English Grammar Digest" by Trudy Aronson. It is also helpful to check the verbs which are used with infinitives or gerunds in this book)

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