Let's start to reverse-engineering English from a very simple word TO.
I categorize TO into a couple of groups.
The first is A group, I call it IntendTo group.
The word TO in this group is used to join one action to the previous action. For example, “I plan to make a trip to Australia”, to plan first and then to trip.
Here are more:
Intention to do; want to; happy to; eager to; willing to; unhappy to; reluctant to; hate to; try not to; plan to; meant to; I am going to do;
continue to; tend to; poise to; cause to; be likely to; inclined to; declined to; fail to; pretend to; attempt to; in an effort to; in a bid to; endeavour to; strive to; determined to;
how to; try to; expect to; encourage to; prompt to; prepare to; desire to; designed to; decide to; available to; promise to; pledge to; stop to; enough to; ready to; Continue to;
Under A, there are two subgroups, A1 and A2.
In A1, there is no TO in it actually.
There are two actions happening at the same time or two sets of activities take place concurrently, instead of one at a time. Here are some examples:
Envisage doing; Visualize doing; Imagine doing; Keep doing; Stop/Continue doing something; See somebody doing something;
So, We don't say “I plan going to the cinema”. We can not plan something and materialize it at the same time.
In A2, there is no TO in it either. Most of time there are two sets of activities involved. Like these:
Let do; Make do; Help do;
However, native English speakers do say “help to do” (in which HELP involves lots of activities), when they are trying to connect Activities to one specific Action.
These activities happen at the same time, but in a longer process, so the second verb(“Do”,means lots of activities too) are in simple tense.
From above A, A1 and A2 group, we know whether we use TO, or Doing or just simple tense, it depends on timing.
“Continue to do or Continue doing”: ?
B group, I call it CloseTo group.
Basically, it means to get closer physically or in distance.
Here are some examples:
From to; Next to; Stick to; Attach to; Attachment to; Loyal to; Join to; Similar to; Identical to; Subject to; Belong to; In addition to;
Access to; Offer to; Give to; connect to; connection to; go to; expose to; exposure to; Equivalent to; Addicted to; Adhere to; Keep to;
Be likened to; compare to;
The third group is AB, indicating someone shows willingness, unwillingness or something/process in a trend/tendency to become closer either physically or mentally.
Here are examples:
“A Breakthrough Computer opens the door to designing in 3D.”
Lead to; Way to; Approach to; These could be in A group too.
Admit to; Deny; Confess to; Agree to;Look to; Introduction to; Introduced to; Commit to;
Listen to the radio/you; I am looking forward to hearing from you. The last two examples show a person's strong intentions to be closer mentally.
C group, I call it RelateTo group.
It is very similar to B(CloseTo) group, but more meaningful in :“To what extent or how are things/people related to each other”.
Here they are:
Unrelated to; Related to; Relation to; Relative to; Respond to; In response to; Refer to; Reference to; Linked to; Linkage to; Tied to; React to; Reaction to; Reacted to; Sensitive to; Prior to; Next to;
According to; Limit to; Restraint to; Alternative to; Preferable to;
Answer to question; Key to a lock; Attitude to work;
Opposite to; Object to; As opposed to; In regards to;
NA-1(NonIntention A group One), shows loose connections between matters.
Here are some:
Regardless of; Dream of; Boast of; Brag of; Afraid of; Fearful of; Frightened of; Jealous of; Skeptical of; Envious of; Fond of; Sick of; Tired of;( All are psychological terms)
Accused of;(not guilty yet)
Smack of; Smell of; Empty of;
Optimistic of; Pessimistic of;
Remind of; Reminiscent of(Latest news);
Tunisia terror victims flown home.
LONDON: The bodies of eight Britons killed in last week's jihadist attack in Tunisia arrived in Britain to a solemn ceremony reminiscent of the repatriation of fallen soldiers.
Heard of;(Latest news)
Harbour patrol sergeant D.J.Haldeman said sea lions had been known to jump on to boats but it was the first he had heard of a dolphin doing so.
So we don't say “I dream to find a prince”, “I dream not to find a prince” either. But when we say “My dream is to find a king”, My Dream equals to an intention instead of a nightdream.
NA-2(NonIntention A group Two),
shows loose connections between matters too, but always mood related. Like these:
Worry about; Concern about; Complain about; Anxious about; Dream about; Talk about; Dance about; Angry about; (Angry at is more specific). Excited about; Crazy about; (Need more examples in this group).
NA-3(NonIntention A group Three).
If you want to draw a firm or more specific connection between matters, people in particular, the word With is a choice.
In conjunction with (itemized conditions); Talk with; Connection with people;
A guy was accused of some wrong doing;
The guy later pled guilty to four charges;
The guy was convicted of murder;
Now the guy is charged with one each count of stealing and murdering, two counts of extortion.
Now the guy is life-sentenced to jail on charge of murder.
Let's recap the above groups.
These efforts pave the way to being able to listen to you;
You are the key to understanding the Australians;
These measures open the door to engaging with Australia;
This is the way to proceed/go to the cinema;
We find the way to solve the problem;
This is the key to unlock the padlock;
This is the tunnel to go through to the meeting room;
This is the way to the cinema;
This is the key to the padlock;
This is the door to the meeting room;
This discussion is open to add more examples and corrections.
Actually there is a problem in this article, can you point it out?
After your making more contributions to this article, I hope to finish the reverse-engineering on TO. A clue: At the beginning of this article, I should have said “Let's start reverse-engineering”. An action connects to Activities.
Andy Chang, in Australia