‘TO’ is one of the most common prepositions in the English language. It has many usages as a preposition. Let’s understand all its usages.
1 To indicate the direction or destination
We commonly use the preposition ‘to’ to talk about the direction or the destination of a movement.
- We are going to our school.
- All of us went to Goa last week.
- Does he still come to your place?
- The little boy ran to his mother as soon as he saw the ghost.
- They are coming to this location in some time. Let’s wait.
- We are flying to London next Sunday.
- Let’s walk to the hotel. It’s not that far.
Verbs of movement used here: go, come, run, fly, walk, crawl, sail
Notice that after the preposition ‘to’, we are mentioning the location/destination where the movement is happening.
2. To indicate the receiver of an action
The preposition ‘to’ is also used to indicate the person who receives something (an object of the verb). In this case, the action verbs are often the following: give, pass, send, write, and gift.
- The company gave their most valuable post to me.
- Could you pass the bottle to me?
- Last night, Gini sent some gifts to my house.
- The company sent a legal notice to us for talking negative about it on social media.
- I am writing a letter to our college.
- I gifted my first painting to my mother.
Notice that the objects of the verb (direct object) are placed right after the action verbs. The preposition ‘to’ is placed between the object (thing) and the receiver of the object (person).
NOTE: the preposition ‘to’ is not used if the receiver of the object is placed right after the action verb.
- The company gave me their most valuable post.
- Could you pass me the bottle?
3. As a time expression (just like until/till)
The preposition ‘to’ is sometimes used just like the preposition till or until.
- It’s 3 hours to the starting of the program. Let’s not wait here.
- I’ll keep helping these poor kids to my death.
4. FROM … TO ….. (Time expression)
The preposition ‘to’ is commonly used in the phrase (FROM a time expression TO another time expression). Here, the preposition ‘to’ indicates the ending point (a time).
- I’m usually taking classes from 10 am to 5 pm.
- The office will be closed from Sunday to Tuesday.
- From the entrance to his walkout, I want all the moments to be captured.
- Simran was living in Canada from 2014 to 2018.
5. Between two numbers
The preposition ‘to’ is commonly used to show the range between two numbers.
- The people protesting at the bank are 20 to 25. (Any number between these two digits)
- We invited 400 to 450 people to the wedding.
- This phone will cost you four hundred to five hundred dollars.
6. Between two nouns (direction)
- I don’t know the way to the railway station. (Way that takes us to the railway station)
- This is the right path to success.
- That is the road to the Red Fort.
- The last trip to Auli was not as good as I thought it would be.
- Is this the door to his office?
- Which is the gate to the parking?
- Is this the exit to gate no 4?
7. After certain verbs (direction)
The preposition ‘to’ is used after certain verbs to indicate their location. Here are some verbs that follow it: object, reply, talk, revert, admit, look forward, etc.
- I object to killing animals as they have rights to live too.
- She never replies to my proposal.
- The company reverted to my mail immediately.
- I was not talking to you.
- After a long interrogation, the man admitted to his crime.
- I am looking forward to meeting some of my students.
NOTE: with these verbs, we either use a regular noun or a gerund (an ING form of a verb that works as a noun).
- I look forward to hearing from you. (gerund)
- I look forward to the party. (regular noun)
8. After certain adjectives
Some adjectives are followed by the preposition ‘to’ and a noun/pronoun. Here are some of them: cruel, rude, nice, loyal, similar, unkind, kind, superior, inferior, attracted, limited, grateful, allergic, immune, beneficial, identical, sensitive, used, addicted.
- My manager is polite to all the team members.
- She is always rude to us.
- Be nice to the customers.
- Jon has been loyal to my family.
- This tastes similar to what we had in Shalimar Bagh.
- You are not superior or inferior to anyone.
- My sister Jyoti is allergic to chocolates.
- I am allergic to milk. (noun)
- I am allergic to milk products. (noun phrase)
- I am allergic to what you’re eating. (noun clause)
9. Directed towards (identifying)
In this case, the preposition ‘to’ and its object (a noun or a pronoun) identify the noun that comes before them and tell us who it is true for.
- You are everything to me.
- His organization is a big threat to the world.
- That’s rude behavior to us.
- The writer made a reference to Indian culture.
- We are not humans to these companies. We are just money making machines to them.
- You have been a support system to our family.
- It tastes like wine to me.
10. To draw comparisons between two nouns
The preposition ‘to’ is used to draw a comparison between two things.
- I prefer tea to coffee.
- India won the series by 3 matches to 1.
- Jyoti and I prefer singing to dancing.
Don’t confuse a particle TO (To + V1) with a preposition!
If ‘to’ is followed by a verb (V1), it’s not a preposition; it’s a part of an infinitive.
- I need food to eat. (Infinitive)
- We hate to talk to that man. (Infinitive)
- The Chief Minister is coming to the hospital to see his condition. (Infinitive)
NOTE: if ‘to’ is followed by a gerund (V1+ing), it is a preposition.
- We were looking forward to attending the meeting.
- His commitment to teaching students is amazing.
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Watch this video to understand the difference between the preposition To and FOR.