1. limac
    Offline

    limac New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2009
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0

    When to use 'to'

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by limac, May 10, 2009.

    Hi,

    Is there a general suggestion as when to use 'to' and when to not? I am looking for some very common examples where 'to' is used.

    Thank you for your time.
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    There are over 25 definitions for the word "to" in each of the dictionaries I just referenced. That would be your best starting point.

    As it stands, your question is too vague.
     
  3. limac
    Offline

    limac New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2009
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you for pointing that out. i am basically having trouble figuring out when to use the word 'to'. So if you could give me some pointers as when the usage of 'to' will be appropriate. it would also help if you mentioned a few common cases where 'to' is used.
     
  4. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    I'm assuming you're not a native English speaker, cuz "to" is one of those things that is instinctive and natural and obvious. So maybe if we know what your first language is we could help better?
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    to use 'to' properly, you first have to be careful to use the right 'to' and not to use 'too' or 'two' when you need to use 'to'...

    such as in saying that two of you went to the store to buy some milk, in order to feed the cat, which isn't too hard to do...

    hope this helps a bit to show you some ways to use 'to' correctly...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  6. limac
    Offline

    limac New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2009
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you very much for your time. My native language as you asked is Bengali.
    I am fair with too and two but my problem is about "to". when I use to and when I would not use to. I'm little confuse about that.
     
  7. StrixVaria
    Offline

    StrixVaria New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    You really have to give specific sentences where you're not sure, because there are so many different possible meanings that we can't infer which you're having difficulty with.
     
  8. xxtake_controlxx
    Offline

    xxtake_controlxx Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York
    I'm not sure what exactly you're talking about, but another explanation of "to" is using it when using a verb in the infinitive form. For example "to run" is the infinitive form. "I run" is the conjugated form of the verb and therefore the "to" is not used. Generally, you use "to" when you are speaking about where you are going. "I am going to the store." You also use "to" when you have a verb and want to follow that verb up with another verb. "I am going to eat a sandwich later."

    Those are only two examples of the use of "to," but in my quick assessment of the word, I think those are the two most common uses of the word. I hope that helped, at least a little bit.
     
  9. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    I went to the store.

    Don't tell me what to do!

    We went from his house to the store.

    check out www.dictionary.com Type in "to" and you will get many sentences examples and definition on how to use it.
     
  10. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,836
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I think some of the confusion may also come from the fact that English, like most languages, provides for a number of different syntactic constructions to express the same idea, sometimes leaving the non-native speaker a bit confused. Example:

    The non-native speaker might be left wondering if one of these forms is formal and the others colloquial. Or perhaps that one or more of the choices is simply incorrect, and if so, which one?

    The fact is that all three structures are equally correct. Individuals will have a tendency to gravitate to using one structure over the others out of personal preference. But the inherent correctness of all these structures may not be organically obvious to the non-native speaker, leaving the person wondering as to just what is going on, especially in the last example which requires explaining how verbs and nouns in English can be interchangeable, and that the use and meaning of the verb take is not always transparent.

    These mechanical words (prepositions, conjunctions, articles etc.) are sometimes difficult to explain, especially when they have many uses, like the word to. These words are the invisible nut & bolts of a language which native speakers organically understand how to use, even if they cannot explain how to use them.
     
  11. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    My students are always reluctant to use infinitive of purpose. They think it's strange that we say:
    I am at this university TO GET a degree.
    They--wrongly--want to say:
    I am at this university for getting a degree.
    It takes several weeks to get them to use to+infinitive!
     
  12. Sound of Silence
    Offline

    Sound of Silence Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Close to madness
    'to' used as a preposition: he went to great lengths
    'to' used infinately: to be or not to be
    'to' used as an idiom: to and fro
     
  13. ManhattanMss
    Offline

    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    14
    To your particular question, I'd say that, aside from some of the excellent responses you've already gotten, there probably aren't "general" suggestions about when to use "to" and when not to that will ultimately provide you with the confidence you seek in its overall use. You yourself have used it pretty well, so that confuses your particular quandary a little. I think providing specific examples that show where you're uncertain might garner the kind of responses from readers that'd be a lot more helpful. I find that's actually true of most grammatical issues: the hypothetical "proper" use of a word doesn't often cover the entire realm of grand possibilities--not the least of which is the very effective IMproper use of a word (but that comes later).

    Another good way to investigate this is to notice the usage of "to" in everything you read. Is it used as a preposition or to introduce an infinitive? Or is "to" used as a noun (as in speaking of the word itself)? If you can't figure it out, present the example. You might be surprised to find there are differences of opinion about some of these things and that context matters, too.

    I admire anyone learning to use a second language (especially to use it in writing). For that matter, I admire anyone learning to squeeze out the best use of their first language (which is probably why most of us are here to begin with).

    Molly
     
  14. Atari
    Offline

    Atari Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2009
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Louisiana

    The problem with saying, 'when to use to and WHEN TO NOT USE TO' is that there are trillions of situations wherein you would NOT use 'to,' but only a handful wherein you WOULD use it.


    To make it a little clear, here are some sentences where to is used:
    First, the definition of the word:
    to >preposition 1 expressing direction or position in relation to a particular location, point, or condition

    This is very apt.

    So sentences wherein this word may be used are such as the following:

    1. I walked to the store.

    2. In order to win, I had to be better than everyone else.

    3. I talked to my cat/sister/neighbor.

    4. I was close to him.


    Of course, that definition doesn't cover all of these sentences.

    I dunno, using 'to' is intuitive, as stated. Perhaps you should write a lot.
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    and, more importantly, READ a lot!
     
  16. ManhattanMss
    Offline

    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    626
    Likes Received:
    14
    I ran across the following, which made me think of your question about "to." This is from Roy Blount's ALPHABET JUICE (which someone gave me):

    ***

    "to's and of's

    "I have asked other writers whether they tangle themselves up in to's and of's. I have received blank looks in reply. So maybe it's just me. Maybe it may be attributed to my tendency to go to too-great lengths to take into account every aspect of every part of ... Oh, I don't know. I can't do it when I'm trying."

    ***

    I admit I'm not finding his book about idiosyncracies of words and language to be terribly useful or, in places, even clear. But I thought it might give you comfort to know you're not alone when it comes to "blank stare" responses to your question about how to use the word "to." (He'd probably be happy to know he shares this problem with you.)
     

Share This Page