From Middle Englishto(“to”), from Old Englishtō(“to”), from Proto-Germanic*tō, *ta(“to”), from Proto-Indo-European*de, *do(“to”). Cognate with Scotstae, to(“to”), North Frisianto, tö, tu(“to”), Saterland Frisiantou(“to”), Low Germanto(“to”), Dutchtoe(“to”), Germanzu(“to”), West Frisianta(“to”). Non-Germanic cognates include Albanianndaj(“towards”), Irish do(“to, for”), Breton da(“to, for”), Welsh i(“to, for”), Russianдо(do, “to”).
(UK) IPA(key): /tuː/, [tʰu̟ː], enPR: to͞o
(US) IPA(key): /tu/, [tʰu̟], enPR: to͞o
(General Australian, General New Zealand) IPA(key): /tʉː/, [tʰʉː]
Homophones: too, two
(US) IPA(key): /tə/, /tʊ/
(after a vowel) IPA(key): [ɾə], [ɾʊ]
A particle used for marking the following verb as an infinitive.
I want to leave.
He asked me what to do.
I have places to go and people to see.
To err is human.
1711, Alexander Pope:
To err is human, to forgive divine.
c.1600, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act 3, Scene 1:
To be, or not to be: that is the question: / […]
2010 July, Associated Press, headline :
Odds are, BP to get new CEO this year
As above, with the verb implied.
"Did you visit the museum?" "I wanted to, but it was closed."
If he hasn't read it yet, he ought to.
(expressing purpose) In order to.
I went to the shops to buy some bread.
A particle used to create phrasal verbs.
I have to do laundry today.
Indicating destination: In the direction of, and arriving at.
We are walking to the shop.
2013 September 28, Kenan Malik, "London Is Special, but Not That Special," New York Times (retrieved 28 September 2013):
Driven by a perceived political need to adopt a hard-line stance, Mr. Cameron’s coalition government has imposed myriad new restrictions, the aim of which is to reduce net migration to Britain to below 100,000.
Used to indicate the target or recipient of an action.
I gave the book to him.
I spoke to him earlier.
He devoted himself to education.
They drank to his health.
Used to indicate result of action.
His face was beaten to a pulp.
Used to indicate a resulting feeling or emotion.
To everyone's great relief, the tuneless carol singers finally ceased their warbling.
Used after an adjective to indicate its application.
similar to ..., relevant to ..., pertinent to ..., I was nice to him, he was cruel to her, I am used to walking.
Denotes the end of a range.
It takes 2 to 4 weeks to process typical applications.
(obsolete) As a.
With God to friend (with God as a friend); with The Devil to fiend (with the Devil as a foe); lambs slaughtered to lake (lambs slaughtered as a sacrifice); took her to wife (took her as a wife); was sold to slave (was sold as a slave).
(arithmetic)Used to indicate a ratio or comparison.
one to one = 1:1
ten to one = 10:1.
I have ten dollars to your four.
(arithmetic)Used to indicate that the preceding term is to be raised to the power of the following value; indicates exponentiation.
Three squared or three to the second power is nine.
Three to the power of two is nine.
Three to the second is nine.
ten to ten = 9:50; We're going to leave at ten to (the hour).
Used to describe what something consists of or contains.
Anyone could do this job; there's nothing to it.
There's a lot of sense to what he says.
The name has a nice ring to it.
(Canada, Newfoundland, West Midlands (UK)) At.
Stay where you're to and I'll come find you, b'y.
In the sense of "as a", it is a fossil word (Standard English only), found usually only in set phrases like: "to take a woman to wife", "to have someone to friend", "to have something to birthright" etc.. In northern dialects, where it is rare, but still in common use, it is often used in combination with with as in: an idiot with a whore to wife; a shrew with an asshole to man; a loser with shit to job; a ghetto girl with a shit hole to home.
to (not comparable)
Toward a closed, touching or engaging position.
Please push the door to.
1913, D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, chapter 12
He went in his room, pushed the door to, without fastening the latch.
(nautical) Into the wind.
Misspelling of too.
(toward a closed, touching or engaging position):closed, shut
(toward a closed, touching or engaging position):open, ajar
to and fro
For quotations of use of this term, see Citations:to.
Andrea Tyler and Vyvyan Evans, "Spatial particles of orientation", in The Semantics of English Prepositions: Spatial Scenes, Embodied Meaning and Cognition, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 0-521-81430 8