Definition of to in English:

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Pronunciation: /to͞o/
Pronunciation: /tə/


1Expressing motion in the direction of (a particular location): walking down to the mall my first visit to Africa
More example sentences
  • 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.
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
More example sentences
  • 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.
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
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.3(In telling the time) before (the hour specified): it’s five to ten
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.4Approaching or reaching (a particular condition): Christopher’s expression changed from amazement to joy she was close to tears
More example sentences
  • 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?
1.5Expressing the result of a process or action: smashed to smithereens
More example sentences
  • 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.
2Identifying the person or thing affected: you were terribly unkind to her
More example sentences
  • 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.
2.1Identifying the recipient or intended recipient of something: he wrote a heart-rending letter to the parents I am deeply grateful to my parents
More example sentences
  • 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.
3Identifying a particular relationship between one person and another: he is married to Jan’s cousin economic adviser to the president
More example sentences
  • 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.
3.1In 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
More example sentences
  • 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.
3.2Indicating 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
More example sentences
  • 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.
3.3 (to the) Mathematics Indicating the power (exponent) to which a number is raised: ten to the minus thirty-three
More example sentences
  • 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).
4Indicating that two things are attached: he had left his bike chained to a fence figurative they are inextricably linked to this island
More example sentences
  • 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.
5Concerning or likely to concern (something, especially something abstract): a threat to world peace a reference to Psalm 22:18
More example sentences
  • 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.
6Governing a phrase expressing someone’s reaction to something: to her astonishment, he smiled
More example sentences
  • 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%.
7Used to introduce the second element in a comparison: it’s nothing to what it once was
More example sentences
  • 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.


1Used with the base form of a verb to indicate that the verb is in the infinitive, in particular.
1.1Expressing purpose or intention: I set out to buy food we tried to help I am going to tell you a story
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.2Expressing an outcome, result, or consequence: he was left to die he managed to escape
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.3Expressing a cause: I’m sorry to hear that
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.4Indicating a desired or advisable action: I’d love to go to France this summer we asked her to explain the leaflet explains how to start a recycling program
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.5Indicating a proposition that is known, believed, or reported about a specified person or thing: a house that people believed to be haunted
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.6 (about to) Forming a future tense with reference to the immediate future: he was about to sing
More example sentences
  • 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!
1.7After a noun, indicating its function or purpose: a chair to sit on something to eat
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.8After a phrase containing an ordinal number: the first person to arrive
More example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • I went in and pulled the door to.


Old English (adverb and preposition); related to Dutch toe and German zu.

Words that rhyme with to

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Syllabification: to

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