ISLPR Language Services Blog

“to look forward to”

Posted by on Aug 12, 2021 at 4:08 AM

A brief explanation for “to look forward to”

Choose a word from the list to fill in the blanks:

  • See
  • Seeing
  • Go
  • Going

I am looking forward to _____________ you at the weekend.

She wanted to ______ you in her office.

I know you are looking forward to ________ on holidays but we don’t have enough money to _______ overseas.


Consider this sentence: I am looking forward to my holidays. 

“holidays” is a noun and so clearly “to” must be a preposition” in the phrase “I am looking forward to”.  Therefore, in the first sentence above, since “to” is a preposition, and prepositions can only be followed by a noun or pronoun, any verb will have to become a verbal noun ending in -ing.  So, in Sentence 1, the correct word is “seeing”. 

In sentence 2, the “to” is just the marker of the infinitive, “to see” because one of the possible collocations with “want” is “to want to do something”, i.e. “want” is followed by an infinitive verb.

In sentence 3, the correct answers are “going” in Line 1 following “looking forward to” and “go” in Line 2.  Note that an infinitive can often indicate a purpose. In other words, the second clause in Sentence 3 is like saying “we don’t have enough money in order to go overseas”.  If the implication is “in order to”, then a simple infinitive is generally correct.


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