Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

  

English definition of “to”

to

preposition (INFINITIVE)    strong /tuː/ weak // /tu/ // US  //
A1 used before a verb to show that it is in the infinitive A1 used after some verbs, especially when the action described in the infinitive will happen later: She agreed to help. I'll have to tell him. Sadly, she didn't live to see her grandchildren. A1 used after many verbs of agreeing, needing, and wanting: I need to eat something first. I'd love to live in New York. That child ought to be in bed. A2 used instead of repeating a verb clause: "Are you going tonight?" "I'm certainly hoping to." A1 used in phrases where there are reported orders and requests: He told me to wait. Did anyone ask Daniel to book the room? A1 used after some adjectives: It's not likely to happen. Three months is too long to wait. She's not strong enough to go walking up mountains. used after some nouns: He has this enviable ability to ignore everything that's unpleasant in life. This will be my second attempt to make flaky pastry. A clause containing to + infinitive can be used as the subject of a sentence: To go overseas on your own is very brave. My plan was to get it all arranged before I told anyone. A1 used after question words: I don't know what to do. Can you tell me how to get there? A2 used with an infinitive to express use or purpose: I'm going there to see my sister. This tool is used to make holes in leather. To make this cake, you'll need two eggs, 175 grams of sugar, and 175 grams of flour. He works to get paid, not because he enjoys it. You can introduce a clause with a phrase containing to + infinitive: To be honest (= speaking honestly), Elaine, I prefer you in the grey shirt. To be quite truthful with you, Betty, I never really liked the man. A1 used with an infinitive after 'there is' or 'there are' and a noun: There's an awful lot of work to be done. to be going on with UK To be going on with means in order to continue with the present activity or situation: Do we have enough paint to be going on with, or should I get some more while I'm out?Until a particular moment Grammar:No or not?No and not are the two most common words we use to indicate negation. We use no before a noun phrase:See moreGrammar:ToTo is a preposition. It is also used as part of the infinitive (the to-infinitive):See moreGrammar:To as a preposition: destination or directionWe can use to as a preposition to indicate a destination or direction:See moreGrammar:To as a preposition: receiver of an actionWe use to with verbs such as give, hand, send, write, to indicate the person or thing that receives or experiences the object of the verb:See moreGrammar:To as a preposition: timeWe use to in telling the time, when we refer to the number of minutes before the hour:See moreGrammar:To as a preposition: approximate numbersWe can use to when we refer to an approximate number somewhere between a lower number and a higher number:See moreGrammar:To as a preposition: after nounsA number of nouns are followed by to. These include nouns expressing direction or destination such as door, entrance, road, route, way:See moreGrammar:To as a preposition: after verbsSome verbs are followed by the preposition to, including be used, get used, listen, look forward, object, reply, respond:See moreGrammar:To as a preposition: after adjectivesSome adjectives connected with people’s behaviour and feelings are followed by to, including cruel, faithful, generous, kind, loyal, nasty:See moreGrammar:To: the to-infinitiveWe use to before a verb to make the to-infinitive form:See more
(Definition of to preposition (INFINITIVE) from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of to

Definitions of “to” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

exercise

physical activity that you do to make your body strong and healthy

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More