Thursday, June 13, 2013
Look Forward To
The highlighted (The New Paper, 31 May 2013) is wrong.
The writer has obviously misanalysed the to as being part of an infinitive, i.e. to study – an error that is exceedingly common in Singapore, even among members of the teaching profession.
It is worth remembering that there are two types of to: one is a preposition (e.g. Jane went to Munich last month); the other helps us form to-infinitives (e.g. to travel).
The to in the highlighted portion of the article is in fact a preposition: it belongs to the multiword verb look forward to, often also called a phrasal-prepositional verb because it has the structure verb+adverb+preposition.
As is required of prepositions, look forward to is followed by a noun, or something functioning as a noun, in this case the clause (more specifically, a noun clause) studying at the polytechnic ... supposed to start yesterday. If I am asked ‘What was he looking forward to?’ the answer would be ‘Studying at the polytechnic ...’, not ‘Study at the polytechnic...’.