Keen on vs. keen to

Hi, I think at school I was taught this construction:

keen on + gerund

So, for example, I would write or say:

I’m keen on improving my English.
She is keen on making new friends.

Lately, I have often heard and seen this construction:

keen to + infinitive

For example, on CNN I heard this phrase:

Companies are keen to show their latest products at CEBIT.

Does this mean that both constructions are correct? Is there a difference between them?

Thank you all, my English language friends ;-).

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Hi Nicole,

Yes, there is a difference in emphasis. It might first be worth looking at the use of keen on used with a noun. If you are keen on a person, it simply means that you like them a lot and the same with things/activities as in keen on politics/sport/chess and so on. But back to your question: keen on doing something means that you like doing it. Charlie is keen on swimming and goes to the pool every day. Keen to do something means you are eager or enthusiastic about an activity and want to start doing it. Charlie has just started his new job and is keen to show he wants to make progress. This is in line with your example:

Here this indicates that the companies are ready to show …


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Hi Alan,

Good Evening!
I have a question… Could you please tell me which one is correct from the below two:
“I am keen to your examples”
“I am keen on your examples”
Here user want to say that he is eagerly waiting for the examples.
After reading your above explaination according to me first one should be correct. Kindly suggest!


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Hi, Abhiv81. The “keen to” Alan has explained uses the particle “to” of the infinitive. In your example, “to” is a preposition. Your idea is better-expressed as “I am keen to receive your examples.” If you are keen on them, you are expressing that you like them a lot.

You can go your entire life without using the expressions “keen on” and “keen to”. They are not used as much in English-speaking countries as they are in ESL textbooks.

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Now if that isn’t a sweeping generalisation …

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Yes, but it’s a correct one.

If a man in North America used “keen on” in the way foreign ESL textbooks teach it, he’d sound like a funny character from a 1930s film. It’s seldom used, except in negative sentences, when explaining that someone has an aversion to doing something. Even then it’s a little sarcastic.

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Jamie, I think you’re exaggerating, but the part about negative sentences does seem to be true. Your initial comment wasn’t just about North America, though.

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Well, I’ll be a funny character from a 1930’s film!

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Alan thank you for the explanation. So, both constructions are correct (keen on - keen to) but with a different meaning. To use the same example:

Companies are keen to show their latest products at CEBIT” - they are waiting impatiently, they have no patience, they want the moment to come as quick as possible

"Companies are keen on showing their latest products at CEBIT" - they really like/enjoy showing their latest products

Regards …

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