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My question hails from this answer.

Let's take one of the examples mentioned there.

Seven steps to reaching your goals

Non-native speakers like me can identify if the sentence is already written. Say the one I just quoted. I see that 'to' is followed by 'verb-ing' and therefore, it's a preposition and not an infinitive marker.

But, I'm pretty sure that if I were to write this sentence, I'd have gone for...

Seven steps to reach your goals

Now, the question is, how to identify whether we use 'to' as an infinite marker OR a preposition? I repeat, I'm asking about writing on my own, and not something that is already written.


The similar question has been asked previously and the answer says that 'there's no such rule'. But then, Damkerng has come up with a very useful comment. I'm looking forward to having such kind of answer to this. If there's no one rule, at least something that helps us decide it?

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    By the way, seven steps to reach(ing) your goals isn't a sentence. It's a noun phrase.
    – user230
    May 8, 2015 at 5:05
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    This is related to my comment in another question. To keep things short, it's "to something" vs. "to do something". I'd like to visit New York ~ "I'd like to do something"; Scientists are closer to being able to ..] ~ "Scientists are closer to something"; Seven steps to reaching your goals ~ "Seven steps to something". IMHO, meaning always comes first in writing, and we should keep our thoughts clear. Clear thoughts, clear choices. May 8, 2015 at 5:20
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    this is useful @DamkerngT. as always, sir! :)
    – Maulik V
    May 8, 2015 at 5:27
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    Actually you want to know how to choose between gerund and infinitive, right? May 8, 2015 at 6:09
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    @LucianSava bang on! welcome back! :)
    – Maulik V
    May 8, 2015 at 6:09

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