• She admitted to making a mistake.
  • She admitted making a mistake.

In first sentence the preposition to has been used, while in second it is not. Please tell me what are the differences between them. If both are correct, when to use admit to + gerund and when to use admit + gerund.


  • In the second sentence, admit always takes the -ing form, that's why the infinitive isn't used.
    – Schwale
    Feb 21, 2016 at 17:06

2 Answers 2


This is a construction where usage has changed over time. A century ago, the preposition to would almost never be included in OP's example, but today it usually would be...


Having said that, I don't think many native speakers would consciously recognize the prepositionless form as "dated". I only just discovered this significant usage shift1 myself - because the question piqued my interest, and because it's now quite easy to investigate such matters using online corpora.

So it's probably better for OP to stick to #1 because it'll make him sound "more like a native speaker". But rather curiously, hardly any native speakers would notice anything "odd" if he used #2.

Note that syntactically you admit [to] something. The thing admitted [to] must be a noun (note that gerunds are "verb forms functioning as nouns"), so there's no role for an infinitive verb form here.

1 I've now realised the particular text I chose for my chart rather overstates the shift - but this and this both show even more clearly what a "recent and upcoming" usage the preposition represents.


Both are commonly used.

Merriam-Webster uses the version without to:

admitted making a mistake

The OED also cites several examples and notes "often with to" but for definitions other than the one you're using (e.g. he was admitted to the theatre).

This Google Ngram chart shows that most instances of "admitted" omit "to."

Based on these sources, I'd recommend just using the version without to, especially if it's easy to remember, but not worry too much about it.

  • this is a bad ngram, not comparing like with like. Searching for "admit" includes all instances of the verb, including those with to, those with no following verb (e.g. "I admit that I..."), or even the meaning of "let in" as in "They only admit guests with tickets" etc.
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 16, 2020 at 12:14
  • @Some_Guy sure, the ngram should be taken with a big grain of salt and merely supplements the answer rather than providing the authoritative source.
    – WBT
    Oct 16, 2020 at 15:34
  • I'm not sure that it does supplement it, I think it's so misleading that it detracts from it for the reasons I outlined. Because of all the other information the query encompasses, it provides no information at all (or least no correct information) on which structure is more common between [admit] + gerund vs. [admit] to + gerund.
    – Some_Guy
    Oct 18, 2020 at 21:40

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