To - English Preposition

Prepositions - Lesson #6

We will cover the different ways to use "to" in this lesson. We will also talk about the most common verbs and adjectives that are usually used together with "to".

First, let's study how "to" is used.

1. We use "to" to show the direction or location of something.
  • He is walking to the bank.
  • She walks to work.
  • The store is on the left.
  • My house is located to the right of the chicken restaurant.
  • He passed the note to me.
2. We can use "to" to mean as far as something. In other words, something continues until a certain point.
  • This road continues to the river.
  • Her hair goes to her knees.
3. We use "to" to show that something has reached a certain state.
  • The paper was torn to pieces.
  • The mother sang the baby to sleep.
  • The movie brought me to tears.
4. "To" can be used to show a range. It is commonly used as "from….to….", but many times "from" is omitted.
  • The store is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • I work from 8 to 6 every day.
  • She likes all movies from documentaries to horror movies.
5. We use "to" to show the person or thing that receives something.
  • I gave it to my brother.
  • She gave the leftover food to the dog.
  • My boss explained the project to her.
6. "To" can be used to show two things are connected, attached, or related in some way.
  • Tie this to the car.
  • Connect this wire to the computer.
  • He is married to a British woman.
  • This is the key to the door.
  • Do you know a solution to this problem?
7. We use "to" when we are talking about what we prefer. In these sentences, "to" has the same meaning as "more than".
  • I prefer sleeping to working.
  • She prefers books to movies.
  • He prefers working alone to working in a group.
8. "To" can mean "concerning" or "directed to".
  • He made a threat to my family.
  • She made a reference to that movie during her speech.
9. We can use "to" to mean in honor of somebody or something.
  • Cheers to another successful year.
  • This book is dedicated to all of the people who died in this tragic accident.
10. "To" can also be used to show somebody's opinion or feeling about something. This highlights that is not a fact; it is just an opinion.
  • It looks good to me.
  • That plan sounds good to me.
  • It tasted good to me.
11. We can also use "to + verb" after nouns, verbs, or adjectives.
  • There is no reason to worry.
  • It will not be a problem to fix it before Monday.
  • I want to go to the zoo.
  • We need to leave early.
  • It is good to exercise.
  • It is nice to meet you.
Now, let's look at the verbs and adjectives that are often used with "to".

Verb + to

talk tospeak tolisten to
apologize toexplain todescribe (something) to
describe (somebody) toshout tohappen to
invite (somebody) toprefer (something) tolook to

Note: Remember that a different preposition can change the meaning. For example, "look at" and "look to" have completely different meanings. "Look at" means to look in the direction of somebody. "Look to" means to rely or depend on somebody for advice or help.
  • I talk to her once a week.
  • I haven't spoken to her in over a year.
  • She likes to listen to hip-hop music.
  • I will apologize to him when I see him.
  • Can you explain this to me?
  • Describe your hotel to us.
  • He described the robber to the police officers.
  • He shouted to me from across the room.
  • What happened to her?
  • I invited them to the party.
  • We prefer coffee to tea.
  • We look to our CEO for vision.
Adjective + to

nice to (somebody)kind to (somebody)good to (somebody)
generous to (somebody)polite to (somebody)rude to (somebody)
friendly to (somebody)unfriendly to (somebody)cruel to (somebody)
married to (somebody)engaged to (somebody)similar to
  • She is nice to us.
  • He is always kind to me.
  • My parents were good to me.
  • They are generous to everybody.
  • He wasn't that polite to me.
  • He is rude to strangers.
  • Was he friendly to you?
  • Was the hotel staff unfriendly to your family?
  • My old boss was cruel to the staff.
  • I am married to Kathy.
  • Mark is engaged to Sally.
  • English is similar to Spanish.
Prepositions are one of the hardest things for people who are learning English to master. But you should not worry about prepositions too much. Most times, if you make a mistake with a preposition, the other person can still understand what you are saying. However, if you want to be an excellent or fluent English speaker, then you must know how to use prepositions correctly. It will take time to master English prepositions, but if you study these lessons and come back to review them often, then you will gain a better understanding of how and when to use each English preposition.