In this sentence:
Lincoln Park Zoo is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a family-oriented...
Can I write "dedicated to connect people with nature"? If not, why do I have to write to + ing?
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"Connect" is a verb. One cannot be dedicated to a verb, like "connect;" instead one is dedicated to the action of doing something (e.g. "connecting people"), and that action is a noun, so you must use the gerund form of the verb. That is why the gerund is also called a nounal verb, because it is used as a noun in sentences while retaining the meaning of the verb.
The "to" used here is not part of the infinitive form a verb, but a preposition linking the verb "dedicated" to the object "connecting people."
Here the word "to" is used as a preposition, and its phrase modifies "dedicated". It is not part of an infinitive. Similar examples of "dedicated to":
We are dedicated to our mission.
He is dedicated to his work.
But then the object of the preposition is a gerund, to make the verb phrase "connect people with nature..." into a noun form.
So the zoo is dedicated to its action or mission, and connecting people with nature is that action or mission.
"Dedicated to connect" seems incorrect or confusing to me, since a description of the purpose of dedication usually uses "dedicated to" as a preposition, but "to connect" suggests more of an infinitive.