Why 'doing' after 'look forward to'?

Petter Wang 09/04/2015. 4 answers, 4.241 views
verbs infinitives gerunds

Normally, 'I want to do something', 'nice to meet you', that the verb always be its normal status. But why 'look forward to doing'?For example, I am looking forward to seeing all of the great ideas that you come up with.

4 Answers


user240918 10/19/2018.

The key to understanding this usage is the preposition “to” which comes after the expression “look forward:”

Look forward to something means to be pleased or excited that it is going to happen. The ‘to’ in look forward to is a preposition, so we must follow it by a noun phrase or a verb in the -ing form:

  • I’m looking forward to the holidays.

  • A: Are you excited about your trip to South America?

  • B: Yes, I’m looking forward to it.

  • We’re looking forward to going to Switzerland next month.

If the second verb has a different subject, we use the object form of the pronoun, not the subject form:

  • We’re looking forward to him arriving next week.

Not: We’re looking forward to he arriving next week.

(Cambridge Dictionary)


Acccumulation 10/19/2018.

"look forward to" takes a noun. "drink" is a verb. So we take gerund "drinking", which acts as a noun.


chasly from UK 09/04/2015.

We look forward to [noun phrase] or equivalent, e.g.

I always look forward to the weekend.

In your examples, the -ing word is a gerund. A verb form that can be used in place of a noun.

A gerund is a noun made from a verb by adding "-ing." The gerund form of the verb "read" is "reading." You can use a gerund as the subject, the complement, or the object of a sentence.

English Page


Ben 10/20/2018.

It's the connotation.

Any of these are perfectly fine grammatically:

  • I was looking forward to drink at the new pub, but it was closed.
  • I was looking forward to drinking at the new pub, but it was closed.

or

  • I was looking forward to a drink at the new pub, but it was closed.
  • I was looking forward to having a drink at the new pub, but it was closed.

The difference is the connotation. The first one emphasises the drink itself, so has a connotation that the drink would somehow be a different drink. In fact what would be different would likely be the company, or the atmosphere. The specific beer type would probably be available in other places.

All the others de-emphasise the drink and focus on the act of drinking as something done probably in company.


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