Thursday, June 2, 2011

Don’t abuse the preposition “to”

Don’t abuse the preposition to. In other words, don’t try to force it to do the work of other prepositions.

In previous posts, I have described the maniacal abuse of the noun issues, the adjective comfortable, and the verb drive. Lazy writers latch onto them to avoid the effort of thinking of more precise nouns, adjectives and verbs.

Lazy writers also tend to seize the first preposition that comes to mind. And the first preposition that comes to mind is often wrong, because lazy writers rarely read anything from careful writers.

Currently, it appears that lazy writers’ favorite preposition to abuse is to. Here are four examples:

“…maybe there is more impact to [sic for on] me…” (Source)

“You can lose between ten to [sic for and] fifteen pounds in one week…” (Source)

“…the damage to nuclear plants in Japan after an earthquake is different to [sic for from] the disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986.” (Source)

“This is the first and most important component to [sic for of] problem solving.” (Source)

The Takeaway: Be precise with your prepositions. It is a mark of a well-educated, well-read, careful writer. Need I say more?

Thanks to Janice Lindsay, a sharp-eyed editor, for pointing out the growing abuse of to.

See disclaimer.

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