When is TO followed by -ING form of the Verb?

Non-native English learners often get confused by this question and are reluctant to use -ing after to because they were taught in school that to is ALWAYS preceded by the infinitive form of the verb (eg. to drive, to eat, etc.) If that is truly the case, then why is the following sentence grammatically correct?

I look forward to meeting you again.

This is because to actually has two different functions:

  1. As an infinitive marker (i.e., to show that the next word is an infinitive verb. E.g., I like to swim every day.)
  2. As a preposition (E.g., We’re going to London next week.)

When to acts as a preposition it is usually followed by an –ing form (which in this case is a gerund) or a noun/noun phrase, as in these examples:

confess toHe confessed to stealing the money.
admit toThey won’t admit to cheating on the exam.
object toWe object to allowing smoking inside the school.
oppose toI’m opposed to changing the rules of the game.
dedicated toThe teachers were impressed by her dedication to helping the weaker students of the class.
devoted toShe’s devoted to helping the charities.
committed toWe’re committed to improving the society.
be used toThe children are not used to waking up early.
be accustomed toI’m not accustomed to cooking for so many people.
look forward toI look forward to meeting you again,
get around toShe will get around to preparing the lessons some time this week.

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