At y to, las preposiciones en ingles parte 2

…English Prepositions: 

At and to, part 2

Too often I hear errors with at and to when talking with Bogotanos.  We’re going to  try to help fix these errors with this second post on prepositions at and to. We’ll break it down from the easy to the hard.  We covered the easy here.  Now on to…
WHA?! QUEE?!

THE HARD

Just because English wants to give you nightmares, it is possible sometimes but now always to exchange  for at.

To can be used for some verbs of perception just like at. Sometimes to is the only correct preposition, sometimes to changes the meaning of the phrase and sometimes at and to are interchangabe.  Its okay if you are cursing right now.  But let’s start looking at this:

  • When you are in trouble, look to your parents for help. (When you are in trouble, turn to your parents for help.) MEANING CHANGED
  • She waved to me. (She waved at me.) INTERCHANGABLE
  • He smiled to himself when he guessed the correct answer.  (**Special exception to smile at which we only use for the reflexive case) ONLY TO USED WHEN REFLEXIVE, NOT AT.

To can also be used for some action verbs such as throw and shout.  We use to when we want to emphasize the action connects to the recipient. In effect, we’re changing the meaning of the verb with the preposition.

  • Don’t throw food to the animals. (Do not throw food so that the animals get it) MEANING CHANGED
  • Could you shout to James and tell him we are leaving? (Please shout at James, but so that he hears you) MEANING CHANGED

At this point we have to acknowledge that the verb+AT or verb+TO combination when not following our EASY and MEDIUM DIFFICULTY rules. must be memorized because a single rule no longer applies.  We’re referring to meaning changes and special exceptions.  To help you with your memorization, here is a list of special cases we use to:

adapt to

add to

adjust to

admit to

agree to

belong to

cater to

confess to

consent to

contribute to

drink to

happen to

listen to

look forward to

nod to

object to

react to

reply to

respond to

subscribe to

toast to

talk to

turn to

Did you find this lesson difficult? Need to practice your verb+prepositions with an experienced teacher? Check out Bogota Business English and their personalized programs.

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