Which is correct: “I look forward to hear from you soon” or “I look forward to hearing from you soon”?

It might look strange, but “I look forward to hearing from you soon” is actually correct English and “I look forward to hear from you soon” is not. But why?

It’s easy to understand why many non-native speakers choose the wrong form, as we very often see ‘to’ being used to form the infinitive. Examples are “I want to tell you something”, “I have to work late” and “I’m trying to help you”.

In the expression ‘look forward to’, ‘to’ functions as a preposition, in the same way as you would say “I’m travelling to London” or “I’m walking to the station”. We know this because you can follow ‘look forward to’ with a noun:
• “I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
• “I look forward to your reply.”
• “I’m not looking forward to the meeting.”

If a verb follows a preposition, it automatically takes the gerund (-ing) form, which is why we say “Thanks for coming and not “Thanks for come. If you like, you can imagine that the gerund is the ‘noun form’ of the verb.

That’s why we need to use ‘hearing’ and not ‘hear’ in our example: “I look forward to hearing from you soon”.

To a native speaker, “I look forward to hear from you soon” sounds very strange. Experience tells us this; we’ve heard the correct version many times before. Unfortunately, native speakers will rarely correct this mistake because they understand exactly what you want to say.

Now you know the correct structure, you just need to collect more examples. Here are a few to get you started:
• “I look forward to meeting you.”
• “I’m looking forward to seeing you again.”
• “He’s looking forward to going home.”
• “I’m not looking forward to getting up at 5 o’clock tomorrow morning.”
• “She always looks forward to relaxing on the beach.”

I hope this will help you to remember what to write the next time you’re sending a business email! And please tell your non-native speaking colleagues and friends!

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