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Thread: to verb+ing

  1. #1
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    Default to verb+ing

    Grammar is not the key to speaking English easily, and fast.

    How to explain from grammatical point of view the selected expression (to verb+ing)?

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: to verb+ing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvita View Post
    Grammar is not the key to speaking English easily, and fast.

    How to explain from grammatical point of view the selected expression (to verb+ing)?
    I'm afraid I don't have the necessary technical knowledge for this; I suspect the answer will involve the term complement, but I must defer to the other teachers.

    This sort of construction is required by only a few words, like key and answer.

    b
    PS When I saw the title I thought you were confusing verbs that take to+inf with verbs that take the -ing form. I hope this non-answer prevents other teachers from jumping to the same conclusion.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: to verb+ing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvita View Post
    Grammar is not the key to speaking English easily, and fast.

    How to explain from grammatical point of view the selected expression (to verb+ing)?
    To is a preposition. We know that because the other to in English, the infinitive marker to, only takes base verbs; e.g., to be, to go, to run, to eat, and so on. So, infinitive to never takes and cannot take an inflected form; e.g., -ing.

    Now, the word speaking carries -ing, inflection, which is a telltale sign of a verb, but it isn't a verb. We know that because words that end in -ing if they are a verb are part of a bigger verb, the present progressive, also called the present continuous, and that looks like this: BE + -ing, e.g., am speaking, is speaking, was speaking, were speaking, and so on. If speaking were a verb in our example key to speaking, then it would need to co-occur with a form of the verb BE (am, is, was, were, etc), but it doesn't, so it's not a verb.

    Speaking is a noun, also known as a gerund. Gerunds look like verbs, but they aren't verbs, because they don't co-occur with a form of the verb BE. Gerunds are verbal nouns and so they function like nouns, and like verbs. As verbals they can take objects. Below, the gerund speaking takes the noun English as its object:

    ...speaking English <object of the gerund>
    and gerunds can also be modified by adverbs. Below, the adverbs easily and fast modify the gerund speaking English:

    ...to speaking English easily, and fast. <adverbial modifiers>
    As nouns, gerunds sit in object and subject positions.

    ...key to speaking English easily, and fast. <object>
    Going back now to the preposition to, a preposition needs an object, and it takes a noun as its object. In our example, the gerund speaking English is the object of the preposition to.


    Does that help?

  4. #4
    florr0 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: to verb+ing

    Speaking is a noun here, just like 'I like speaking'

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