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One group of business verbs that English learners always get wrong in emails. Here’s how to get them right!

One of the most common mistakes that I see on the end of business emails is the phrase:

I look forward to hear from you 

This may look correct to an English learner, but it looks very strange to a native English speaker. The correct version should be:

I look forward to hearing from you 

So why do we need to use ‘look forward to hearing and not ‘look forward to hear’?

The reason is because ‘hear’ is not an infinitive in this sentence.  The verb ‘look forward to’ does not have the classic ‘[verb] + infinitive’ structure.

In fact, with ‘look forward to’, the ‘to’ is actually part of  the verb itself.  If you look for the verb ‘look forward to’ in the dictionary, you will find ‘look forward toand not ‘look forward’.  The ’to’ is  always be part of the verb, regardless of whether the verb is followed by another verb or a noun.

There are many verbs like this, and the structures that we use with these verbs are as follows:

[verb + preposition (to)] + noun

‘I am looking forward to the party’

or

[verb + preposition (to)] + _ing form

‘I am looking forward to seeing you tomorrow’

There are many other useful business verbs and phrases with the preposition ‘to’ as part of the verb, and which follow the structures above. These verbs often cause so many mistakes with English learners, because they are very often followed by the ‘-ing’ form.  They look strange to English learners because the ‘to’ and ‘ing form’ are together - ‘I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.’

  Here are the most important verbs with ‘to’ as well as examples of how to use them in business!:

look forward to

[verb + preposition (to)] + __ing form

‘We look forward to hearing from you’

With this verb, it is also possible to add a noun or pronoun between the preposition and the +ing form.

[verb + preposition (to)] + noun/pronoun + __ing form

‘We look forward to him coming home from his year abroad.’

All verbs followed by prepositions can also be followed just by nouns.

[verb + preposition (to)] + noun

I’m looking forward to the party

get used to

[verb + preposition (to)] + __ing form

‘Some new employees take some time to get used to working in such a big company.’

As with all verbs followed by prepositions, it is possible to add a noun or pronoun between the preposition and the +ing form.

[verb + preposition (to)] + noun/pronoun + __ing form

‘After a few months I got used to people asking me lots of questions in my presentation.’

All verbs followed by prepositions can also be followed just by nouns.

[verb + preposition (to)] + noun

‘Eventually, you will get used to the cold weather here’

adjust to / adapt to

[verb + preposition (to)] + __ing form

‘John had problems adjusting to waking up early when he started his new job’

All verbs followed by prepositions can also be followed just by nouns.

[verb + preposition (to)] + noun

‘When I first moved to China, it was difficult to adapt to their culture.’

object to

If you object to something, it means that you strongly disagree with something:

[verb + preposition (to)] + __ing form

‘I object to working longer hours without being paid overtime’.

‘I object to eating meat.’

As with all verbs followed by prepositions, it is possible to add a noun or pronoun between the preposition and the +ing form.

[verb + preposition (to)] + noun/pronoun + __ing form

‘I object to my colleagues telling me what to do all the time.’

Like all other verbs followed by prepositions, this can also be followed by a noun:

‘I object to war.’

resort to

Resort to is another really useful verb. To resort to something means to do something under difficult circumstances because you have no other possible options. This is usually because you have tried other options which haven’t worked, so you have to use an option which you do not really want to take. It becomes a lot clearer with examples:

‘With profits at an all time low, the company had to resort to making redundancies.’

Like all other verbs followed by prepositions, this can also be followed by a noun:

          ‘As the illness was not getting any better, the doctors had to resort to surgery.’

contribute to

‘Contribute to’ can either be followed by a noun or an -ing form:

[verb + preposition (to)] + noun

‘Many colleagues contributed to the success of the project’ 

[verb + preposition (to)] + __ing form

‘I contributed to setting up the new department’

to be open to

This is an excellent phrase for business.  If you are open to something it means that you are happy to consider or accept something new.  It is very common in business meetings when many suggestions are being offered, and other participants in the meeting are giving their opinion on whether they want to consider these suggestions. This can be used wither with a noun or an ‘-ing form’

‘I am open to any suggestions’ - (open to + noun)

This means that you are happy to consider any suggestions from participants in the meeting:

‘We are open to extending the deadline’  - (open to + _ing form)

This means that we are happy to consider extending the deadline:

This phrase is also common in negotiations, when you want to express that you are happy to consider someone’s offer:

‘We are open to reducing the price if you can offer us something in return’

If you would like to have any of these words explained further, or if you would like to see some more examples, feel free to email me at david@fluencyspace.com, or message me on Skype at live:fluencyspace! Also if you have any other questions about English I’m happy to answer your emails or I will write a post about it, keep the emails coming! Click here for more grammar!

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 David Cox

 Fluency Space

 Make the world your fluency space. Business English for career and life success

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