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...’.


Anastasia said...

Hello. Thank you for the article. But I think you are a little bit wrong. The author of the text probably used "study" not as a verb but as a noun, and we all know that the phrase "to be looking forward to" can be used with the verb+ing or a noun. Examples:
I am looking forward to having a party tonight!
I am looking forward to the party!

Anastasia said...

I think you are a little bit wrong here. The author has probably used "study" as a noun but not as a verb, because all we know that the phrase "to be looking forward to" can be used both with a verb+ing and a noun.
I am looking forward to getting a letter from you.
I am looking forward to your letter!

"study" has the same form of the verb and the noun!

Ludwig Tan said...

Hello, Anastasia

Yes, 'study' can also be a noun, but in this context the plural form is required, i.e. 'He was looking forward to studies at the polytechnic after his national service'.

'Studies' here means 'a particular person's learning activities, for example at a college or university' -- according to Oxford, this is always plural, and formal.

Anastasia said...

Hello Ludwig.
Yeah, that also makes sense!

Mitel Jhum said...

thank you very much for the informative blog.