Definition of to in English:


Pronunciation /to͞o/ /tu/ /tə/

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

    ‘walking down to the mall’
    • ‘my first visit to Africa’
    • ‘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 million to around $75 million’
      • ‘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.

    ‘you were terribly unkind to her’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 3.1Identifying the recipient or intended recipient of something.
      ‘he wrote a heart-rending letter to the parents’
      • ‘I am deeply grateful to my parents’
      • ‘He was on his way back from delivering a present to a friend.’
      • ‘I want data sent to me so I can decide how to use it.’
      • ‘But either way they won't give money to us.’
  • 4Identifying a particular relationship between one person and another.

    ‘he is married to Jan's cousin’
    • ‘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. 4.1In various phrases indicating 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, e.g., the distance traveled in exchange for fuel used, or an exchange rate that can be obtained in one currency for another.
      ‘it 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.

    ‘he had left his bike chained to a fence’
    • ‘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, especially something abstract)

    ‘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.

    ‘it'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.’

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’
      • ‘we tried to help’
      • ‘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, result, or consequence.
      ‘he was left to die’
      • ‘he 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 recycling program’
      • ‘we asked her to explain’
      • ‘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.