to - definition and synonyms

adverb, preposition strong /tuː/ weak

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/tə, tʊ/
To can be used in the following ways:
before the basic form of a verb to form the infinitive: I want to go home.It’s nice to see you again.
as a preposition (followed by a noun): We drove to Newport.
as an adverb (without a following noun): I pulled the door to.
  1. 1
    used as part of an infinitive
    1. a.
      used for forming an infinitive that is the subject, object, or complement of a verb, or is the complement of an adjective, noun, or pronoun

      I hope to see you next week.

      The system is easy to understand.

      I didn’t know what to say.

      Hattersley’s decision to retire from politics was not completely unexpected.

    2. b.
      used for showing the purpose of an action

      Nobody came to help me.

      I am writing to thank you for your generous gift.

      To call security, just press this button here.

      in order to do something:

      I gave English lessons in order to earn some extra money.

    3. c.
      used instead of an infinitive in order to avoid repeating the verb

      You don’t need to come if you don’t want to.

  2. 2
    going somewhere
    1. a.
      used for saying the place where someone or something goes

      She rushed to the phone.

      There are daily flights to Boston.

      the road to the farm

    2. b.
      used for showing that someone goes somewhere for a particular event or activity

      Robert hates going to parties.

      She’s invited me to her wedding.

  3. 3
    used for saying who is told, given, or shown something

    Prizes were presented to the winners.

    I have already explained to everyone what the problem is.

  4. 4
    used for saying in which direction someone or something is facing or pointing

    Henry was standing with his back to me.

    She pointed to a notice on the wall.

    She looked to the left and then to the right before crossing the road.

    face to face/back to back (=facing each other/facing away from each other):

    They stood face to face, glaring at each other.

  5. 5
    used for saying where someone or something is in relation to the position of another person or thing

    There was a large bookcase to the left of the fireplace.

    John was sitting a few yards away to my right.

    a large township just to the south of Johannesburg

  6. 6
    when someone is affected by something
    1. a.
      used for saying who or what is treated in a particular way

      They were very kind to my mother when she was ill.

      Look what you’ve done to my new carpet!

    2. b.
      used for saying who or what is affected by a situation

      I wonder what happened to the Knox family?

  7. 7
    in a particular relationship with someone/something
    1. a.
      used for explaining a relationship between people or things

      Linda has been a good friend to my mother for many years.

      related/married to:

      She was married to an American lawyer.

      Are you, by any chance, related to William Morton?

    2. b.
      used for saying which person or organization someone does a particular job for
  8. 8
    used for saying where something is fastened or where a connection is

    The carpet had been nailed to the floor.

    Your computer is connected to the main network.

  9. 9
    when something changes or develops
    1. a.
      used for saying what condition or state someone or something is in after a change

      He saw that the lights had changed to green.

      The building has been restored to its former glory.

      Charlotte was often reduced to tears by his angry outbursts.

    2. b.
      used for saying what stage of development is reached

      When will all this suffering come to an end?

      The animals are slaughtered before they grow to maturity.

  10. 10
    as far as a particular point or limit

    The cancer had spread to his lungs.

    How far is it from here to Oxford?

    I’m afraid my budget doesn’t stretch to luxuries like champagne.

  11. 11
    1. a.
      until a particular time or date

      To the end of her life, she was a tireless campaigner for peace.

      The shop stays open from 7 am to 9 pm.

      The siege of Monrovia lasted from October 1992 to February 1993.

    2. b.
      used for saying how much time passes before a particular date, time, or event

      Sales increased during the 13 weeks to September 30th.

      Only another 18 days to the final exam!

  12. 12
    used when telling the time, for saying how many minutes it is before the hour

    It’s twenty-five to twelve.

    I’ll meet you at quarter to six.

  13. 13
    used for saying whose opinion, attitude, or knowledge is being referred to

    To most of us, work is an unpleasant necessity.

    it seems/looks to someone:

    It seems to me that there has been a lack of discipline.

    to my mind/to my way of thinking (=in my opinion):

    a taxation policy which is, to my mind, unfair

    to someone’s knowledge (=according to what someone knows):

    To my knowledge, no one knew what Melissa was planning.

  14. 14
    used for saying what your reaction is when something happens
    to someone’s surprise/delight/horror etc:

    To her surprise, she saw that he was crying.

  15. 15
    used for showing how numbers are related
    1. a.
      used for showing the relationship between two numbers or amounts

      The new model will do 60 miles to the gallon in town.

    2. b.
      used for showing that a number of smaller units is equal to a larger unit

      There are 10,000 square centimetres to a square metre.

      The exchange rate is 108 Japanese yen to the US dollar.

  16. 16
    used for saying what the score is in a game

    Our team won by five goals to three.

  17. 17
    if you push or pull a door to, you close it or almost close it

    The door swung to behind her as she went out.

  18. 18
    used for showing a possible range
    1. a.
      used when showing the whole range of numbers between and including the two that you mention

      a toy suitable for children aged three to five

      the numbers from one to ten

    2. b.
      used when showing how large a range of people or things is

      I’ve written articles about everything from sexual morality to gardening.

    3. c.
      used when you say that a number is within a particular range because you are not sure of the exact number

      Only about 20 to 25 per cent of the population voted for this government.

  19. 19
    used for showing that something is an important or necessary part of something else

    the keys to my desk

  20. 20
    used for saying the particular sound that can be heard at the same time that something happens

    I awoke to the sound of birds singing.

  21. 21
    used for saying what something else is touching or pressing against

    Clasping the child to her breast, she began to weep.

    He put a finger to his lips.

See also