Definition of to in English:


Pronunciation /tʊ//tuː//tə/


  • 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’
    • ‘Last Tuesday I went to a council meeting.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Her mum had to take her to hospital every week.’
    • ‘Yosef, a successful lawyer, commuted hours each day to and from work.’
    • ‘Emlyn loudly exited the hotel and went to the station for the Bristol train.’
    1. 1.1 Expressing 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’
      • ‘It was 850 miles to Singapore Harbor.’
      • ‘The landlocked country is dominated by the rugged Hindu Kush mountains that sweep from the west to the east.’
      • ‘The family room to the right of the entrance hall has an unusual colour scheme.’
    2. 1.2 Expressing 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’
      • ‘Prospectors arrived by land or sea and usually operated in groups of six to forty, working claims jointly.’
      • ‘The working week is Monday to Friday.’
      • ‘The two books covers the dance band era from the 1930s to the 1960s.’
      • ‘Another eight to ten million square feet of exhibition space is scheduled to come on line within five years.’
    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’
    • ‘I can honestly say that officers and staff had a mixture of feelings ranging from anger to disgust.’
    • ‘Shackleton's southern party passed the previous ‘furthest south’ record set by Scott, but by January 2 Shackleton was near to breaking point.’
    • ‘Back at the king's court, many warily watched the cardinal's rapid rise to power.’
    • ‘The children cry themselves to sleep from hunger.’
    • ‘Can we ever know if an image moved large numbers of people to action, or changed the ways they think about things?’
    in the direction of, to, toward, so as to approach, so as to near
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Expressing the result of a process or action.
      ‘smashed to smithereens’
      • ‘One had taken a camcorder from someone and proceeded to smash it to pieces.’
      • ‘If you buy a pair of trainers and they fall to bits, you won't buy them again.’
    2. 2.2 Governing a phrase expressing someone's reaction to something.
      ‘to her astonishment, he smiled’
      • ‘She actually did dance with Astaire - but to her great regret, only once, in Easter Parade.’
      • ‘I got 98% in the test but to my annoyance, Janet got 100%.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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 wish you hadn't drawn attention to it.’
    • ‘I am thankful to Anna and her program for my rehabilitation.’
    • ‘In our marriage the most important factor is commitment and being considerate to each other.’
    • ‘When I got out of prison a couple of years ago he actually was very kind to me.’
  • 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.’
    • ‘Karen, on the other hand, is a good friend to Daniel, whose young wife has just passed away.’
    • ‘Alberto is single, while Ernesto is committed to his pretty, aristocratic girlfriend.’
    • ‘He's married to a sociologist who teaches family studies at the University of Connecticut.’
    • ‘She was also special assistant to the cultural affairs commissioner in 1987.’
    1. 4.1 Used 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’
      • ‘Letting anyone into a country without proper identification and background checks is an invitation to chaos.’
      • ‘You can even have your ideal leather coat made to measure by a leather specialist.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms
    2. 4.2 Indicating 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’
      • ‘With the dollar at $1.24 to the pound, property in Florida was quite an attractive investment.’
      • ‘The petrol version will do 16.2 miles to the gallon around town.’
      • ‘The peso breached 50 to the dollar, plunging the country further into crisis.’
      • ‘If you fly into wind you will get much less mileage to the litre.’
    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.’
    • ‘I have also attached the bulletin to this email so you could get a flavor of what we are doing.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 6Concerning or likely to concern (something)

    ‘a threat to world peace’
    ‘a reference to Psalm 22:18’
    • ‘Louis was required to renounce all claim to the English throne and to restore the charters of liberties granted by King John.’
    • ‘They raise the specter of technology as a danger to humanity.’
    • ‘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’
    • ‘I prefer men to women.’
    • ‘This kid is an angel compared to me though and has never been any trouble.’
    • ‘It is simply that I think women are superior to men.’
    • ‘Tom told him a story about a parolee who stole a car to get back into jail because he preferred it to home.’
  • 8Placed before a debit entry in accounting.

infinitive marker

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

    1. 1.1 Expressing purpose or intention.
      ‘I set out to buy food’
      ‘I am going to tell you a story’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I went to get help and by the time I got back he had stopped breathing.’
    2. 1.2 Expressing an outcome or result.
      ‘she was left to die’
      ‘I managed to escape’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I decided to stay away from the crowd but close enough to hear the speakers.’
      • ‘Parks was ignored and left to fend for herself in poverty for many years.’
    3. 1.3 Expressing a cause.
      ‘I'm sorry to hear that’
      • ‘He was shocked to discover the alleged activities at the university.’
      • ‘I'm really pleased to be here.’
      • ‘I was so sorry to read her column slandering the film industry.’
    4. 1.4 Indicating a desired or advisable action.
      ‘I'd love to go to France this summer’
      ‘the leaflet explains how to start a course’
      • ‘She's asked him to seek counseling.’
      • ‘You talk about your sister a lot, I'd like to meet her.’
      • ‘I want to show everybody I am stronger than he is.’
      • ‘There is also information on where to find help with insulation and central heating.’
    5. 1.5 Indicating a proposition that is known, believed, or reported about a specified person or thing.
      ‘a house that people believed to be haunted’
      • ‘To many, she was considered to be a modern Audrey Hepburn with her impeccable style, grace and elegance.’
      • ‘Up to seven million people are thought to have been affected.’
      • ‘It's a plant whose leaves are said to have many medicinal qualities.’
    6. 1.6about to Forming 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. 1.7 After 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. 1.8 After 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
    View synonyms


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