Meaning of to in English:


Pronunciation /tə/ /tʊ/ /tuː/

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  • 1Expressing motion in the direction of (a particular location)

    ‘walking down to the shops’
    • ‘my first visit to Africa’
    • ‘we're going to a party’
    • ‘He actually dropped to the ground just as a giant pickup rolled over him.’
    • ‘They commissioned GAD Architecture, a firm founded in Turkey that has since moved to New York.’
    • ‘Emlyn loudly exited the hotel and went to the station for the Bristol train.’
    • ‘Yosef, a successful lawyer, commuted hours each day to and from work.’
    • ‘Last Tuesday I went to a council meeting.’
    • ‘Her mum had to take her to hospital every week.’
    1. 1.1Expressing location, typically in relation to a specified point of reference.
      ‘forty miles to the south of the site’
      • ‘place the cursor to the left of the first word’
      • ‘The family room to the right of the entrance hall has an unusual colour scheme.’
      • ‘The landlocked country is dominated by the rugged Hindu Kush mountains that sweep from the west to the east.’
      • ‘It was 850 miles to Singapore Harbor.’
    2. 1.2Expressing a point reached at the end of a range or after a period of time.
      ‘a drop in profits from £105 m to around £75 m’
      • ‘from 1938 to 1945’
      • ‘The two books covers the dance band era from the 1930s to the 1960s.’
      • ‘Prospectors arrived by land or sea and usually operated in groups of six to forty, working claims jointly.’
      • ‘Another eight to ten million square feet of exhibition space is scheduled to come on line within five years.’
      • ‘The working week is Monday to Friday.’
    3. 1.3British (in telling the time) before (the hour specified)
      ‘it's five to ten’
      • ‘I was awake at ten to six, at the gym by 6:30.’
      • ‘It's twenty to one in the morning, and I'm beat.’
      • ‘Apologies followed, and at five to three the belated ceremony commenced to the relief of all concerned.’
  • 2Approaching or reaching (a particular condition)

    ‘Christopher's expression changed from amazement to joy’
    • ‘she was close to tears’
    • ‘The children cry themselves to sleep from hunger.’
    • ‘Shackleton's southern party passed the previous ‘furthest south’ record set by Scott, but by January 2 Shackleton was near to breaking point.’
    • ‘Can we ever know if an image moved large numbers of people to action, or changed the ways they think about things?’
    • ‘Back at the king's court, many warily watched the cardinal's rapid rise to power.’
    • ‘I can honestly say that officers and staff had a mixture of feelings ranging from anger to disgust.’
    in the direction of, to, toward, so as to approach, so as to near
    1. 2.1Expressing the result of a process or action.
      ‘smashed to smithereens’
      • ‘If you buy a pair of trainers and they fall to bits, you won't buy them again.’
      • ‘One had taken a camcorder from someone and proceeded to smash it to pieces.’
    2. 2.2Governing a phrase expressing someone's reaction to something.
      ‘to her astonishment, he smiled’
      • ‘Much to his surprise, this small film has turned out to have wide appeal.’
      • ‘To our dismay, unknown to us there was a motel only three kilometres down the road.’
      • ‘I got 98% in the test but to my annoyance, Janet got 100%.’
      • ‘She actually did dance with Astaire - but to her great regret, only once, in Easter Parade.’
  • 3Identifying the person or thing affected by or receiving something.

    ‘you were terribly unkind to her’
    • ‘they donated £400 to the hospice’
    • ‘I am deeply grateful to my parents’
    • ‘I am thankful to Anna and her program for my rehabilitation.’
    • ‘When I got out of prison a couple of years ago he actually was very kind to me.’
    • ‘I wish you hadn't drawn attention to it.’
    • ‘In our marriage the most important factor is commitment and being considerate to each other.’
  • 4Identifying a particular relationship between one person and another.

    ‘he is married to his cousin Emma’
    • ‘he's economic adviser to the president’
    • ‘She's now very happily engaged to a famous actor.’
    • ‘Alberto is single, while Ernesto is committed to his pretty, aristocratic girlfriend.’
    • ‘She was also special assistant to the cultural affairs commissioner in 1987.’
    • ‘He's married to a sociologist who teaches family studies at the University of Connecticut.’
    • ‘Karen, on the other hand, is a good friend to Daniel, whose young wife has just passed away.’
    1. 4.1Used in various phrases to indicate how something is related to something else (often followed by a noun without a determiner)
      ‘made to order’
      • ‘a prelude to disaster’
      • ‘You can even have your ideal leather coat made to measure by a leather specialist.’
      • ‘Letting anyone into a country without proper identification and background checks is an invitation to chaos.’
      • ‘There's a buffet at lunchtime, with plenty of good salads and dips, or the chef will cook a stir-fry to order.’
      to, per, every, each
    2. 4.2Indicating a rate of return on something, for example the distance travelled in exchange for fuel used.
      ‘my car only does ten miles to the gallon’
      • ‘The peso breached 50 to the dollar, plunging the country further into crisis.’
      • ‘The petrol version will do 16.2 miles to the gallon around town.’
      • ‘If you fly into wind you will get much less mileage to the litre.’
      • ‘With the dollar at $1.24 to the pound, property in Florida was quite an attractive investment.’
    3. 4.3to theMathematics Indicating the power (exponent) to which a number is raised.
      ‘ten to the minus thirty-three’
      • ‘The smallest scale postulated is the Planck scale of 10 to the minus 33rd power for length and 10 to the minus 43rd of a second for time.’
      • ‘This is a septillion (10 to the power of 24) times longer than the current age of the universe (about 10 billion years).’
  • 5Indicating that two things are attached or linked.

    ‘he had left his dog tied to a drainpipe’
    • ‘they are inextricably linked to this island’
    • ‘This dead-end dirt road follows a peaceful stretch of the Housatonic River and connects to the Appalachian Trail.’
    • ‘It is in the phone company's interest to get more homes linked to the Internet at very high rates of speed.’
    • ‘On the other corner, a dozen or so balloons are tied to a pole.’
    • ‘I have also attached the bulletin to this email so you could get a flavor of what we are doing.’
  • 6Concerning or likely to concern (something)

    ‘a threat to world peace’
    • ‘a reference to Psalm 22:18’
    • ‘They raise the specter of technology as a danger to humanity.’
    • ‘Louis was required to renounce all claim to the English throne and to restore the charters of liberties granted by King John.’
    • ‘Although the film contains no direct references to the war, it surely is an allegory on World War II.’
    • ‘Pesticides pose risks to both human and nonhuman health if they are found in either surface or ground water.’
  • 7Used to introduce the second element in a comparison.

    ‘the club's nothing to what it once was’
    • ‘Tom told him a story about a parolee who stole a car to get back into jail because he preferred it to home.’
    • ‘It is simply that I think women are superior to men.’
    • ‘This kid is an angel compared to me though and has never been any trouble.’
    • ‘I prefer men to women.’
  • 8Placed before a debit entry in accounting.

infinitive particle

  • 1Used with the base form of a verb to indicate that the verb is in the infinitive.

    1. 1.1Expressing purpose or intention.
      ‘I set out to buy food’
      • ‘I am going to tell you a story’
      • ‘I went to get help and by the time I got back he had stopped breathing.’
      • ‘Next time I am going to box differently with regard to speed and power.’
      • ‘Thieves attempted to gain entry into the cafe on Saturday morning.’
      • ‘His aim was to be a great artist, and in reality he was.’
      • ‘My friend and I were determined to do better.’
    2. 1.2Expressing an outcome or result.
      ‘she was left to die’
      • ‘I managed to escape’
      • ‘I decided to stay away from the crowd but close enough to hear the speakers.’
      • ‘It's too cold to get out of bed.’
      • ‘I have always dreamt about earning a living playing polo, and I think I am managing to achieve it.’
      • ‘Parks was ignored and left to fend for herself in poverty for many years.’
    3. 1.3Expressing a cause.
      ‘I'm sorry to hear that’
      • ‘I'm really pleased to be here.’
      • ‘He was shocked to discover the alleged activities at the university.’
      • ‘I was so sorry to read her column slandering the film industry.’
    4. 1.4Indicating a desired or advisable action.
      ‘I'd love to go to France this summer’
      • ‘the leaflet explains how to start a course’
      • ‘There is also information on where to find help with insulation and central heating.’
      • ‘She's asked him to seek counseling.’
      • ‘I want to show everybody I am stronger than he is.’
      • ‘You talk about your sister a lot, I'd like to meet her.’
    5. 1.5Indicating a proposition that is known, believed, or reported about a specified person or thing.
      ‘a house that people believed to be haunted’
      • ‘Up to seven million people are thought to have been affected.’
      • ‘To many, she was considered to be a modern Audrey Hepburn with her impeccable style, grace and elegance.’
      • ‘It's a plant whose leaves are said to have many medicinal qualities.’
    6. 1.6about toForming a future tense with reference to the immediate future.
      ‘he was about to sing’
      • ‘This news arrived just as a ceasefire was about to come into effect.’
      • ‘Allan's about to get married - he's in Venice organising his pre-nuptial agreement!’
    7. 1.7After a noun, indicating its function or purpose.
      ‘a chair to sit on’
      • ‘something to eat’
      • ‘We don't have any water to drink.’
      • ‘He's going to a cabaret, and he has absolutely nothing to wear.’
      • ‘They see no sun in their limited lives, with no hay to lie on, no mud to roll in.’
    8. 1.8After a phrase containing an ordinal number.
      ‘the first person to arrive’
      • ‘Paula Wolfert was the last to speak and her slides were of various clay pots and dishes.’
      • ‘Young male adults were the first to leave, out of fear of being forced to serve in the military.’
      • ‘She is the second African-American to hold the post.’
  • 2Used without a verb following when the missing verb is clearly understood.

    ‘he asked her to come but she said she didn't want to’
    • ‘As much as I didn't want to go, I had to.’
    • ‘It is your choice if you smoke or not but I think everyone would benefit if we made an effort not to.’
    • ‘I don't want this moment to end, but it's got to.’


  • So as to be closed or nearly closed.

    ‘he pulled the door to behind him’
    • ‘I went in and pulled the door to.’
    secure, secured, fastened, tight, firmly fixed


Old English tō (adverb and preposition), of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch toe and German zu.