I (am) look(ing) forward to hear/hearing from you

by Jakub Marian
Tip: Did you know that “iron” is pronounced as “I earn”, not as “I Ron”? Learn more about the most common pronunci­ation mistakes in English (PDF version).
Note: This article is based on my detailed book about the most common mistakes in English (PDF version).

The “to” in this phrase is confusing because “to” is usually used to introduce a verb, as in “want to”, “have to”, etc. While saying “I want to hear from you” is completely correct, “to look forward to” uses a different pattern:

I look forward to [a thing you would like to happen]

Apparently, “hear” is not a thing, so it wouldn’t make much sense to “look forward to hear from you”. The thing you are looking forward to is “hearing from you”:

I look forward to hearing from you. (correct)
I look forward to hear from you. (wrong)

As for the question whether to use “I look forward to” or “I am looking forward to”, some people consider the two completely interchangeable, but most find the phrase with “look forward to” somewhat formal and best suited for formal correspondence, whereas “to be looking forward to” is more informal and friendly:

I look forward to hearing from you. (correct in formal writing)
I am looking forward to hearing from you. (correct in an informal context)

This article was based on my book about the most common mistakes in English. There is also a PDF version – why don’t you check it out?

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