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  1. #1
    deliful is offline Newbie
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    Default She tells him to go. Is "to" a preposition?

    My students were looking for prepositions and one of them asked me about it. I know that "to go" is an infinitive of purpose. I then wondered: what type of word is "to" in this context?
    Thank you!
    Delia

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    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: She tells him to go. Is "to" a preposition?

    Welcome to the forum, deliful.

    Some consider it just part of the infinitive, some call it the infinitive particle, and some consider it to be a preposition.

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    deliful is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: She tells him to go. Is "to" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Welcome to the forum, deliful.

    Some consider it just part of the infinitive, some call it the infinitive particle, and some consider it to be a preposition.
    Thank you so much! I will tell my students that not everything is black or white

  4. #4
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    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: She tells him to go. Is "to" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by deliful View Post
    Thank you so much! I will tell my students that not everything is black or white
    That will be a valuable lesson for them when learning English.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  5. #5
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: She tells him to go. Is "to" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by deliful View Post
    Thank you so much! I will tell my students that not everything is black or white
    I would consider it wrong to call that a preposition.

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: She tells him to go. Is "to" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I would consider it wrong to call that a preposition.
    Why? I don't think it's particularly helpful to call it a preposition, but I see no strong objection.

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    Default Re: She tells him to go. Is "to" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Why? I don't think it's particularly helpful to call it a preposition, but I see no strong objection.
    As a part of speech, "preposition" has a specific meaning and and a specific function. The "to" in a "to infinitive" doesn't fit the meaning and does not have that function. I have heard the "to" called a particle, a function word, a marker, etc. All of those are preferable for me. Calling it a preposition will likely lead to confusion.

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: She tells him to go. Is "to" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    As a part of speech, "preposition" has a specific meaning and and a specific function. The "to" in a "to infinitive" doesn't fit the meaning and does not have that function.
    What specific meaning and what specific function?
    I have heard the "to" called a particle, a function word, a marker, etc. All of those are preferable for me. Calling it a preposition will likely lead to confusion.
    Well, a few dictionaries don't seem to worry about possible confusion. They include:

    to preposition (INFINITIVE) - definition in the British English Dictionary & Thesaurus - Cambridge Dictionaries Online
    To - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    Definition of to | Collins English Dictionary

  9. #9
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: She tells him to go. Is "to" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I understand. Difference in terminology is one of the main reasons there is confusion in language discussions. Most definitions of "preposition" that I have seen talk about linking a substantive, noun or pronoun to another word in a sentence. Prepositions have objects. The verb form following "to" in an infinitive is clearly not a substantive and is clearly not a prepositional object. Some dictionaries call "to" from an infinitive a preposition probably because there is no other part of speech to call it. I have, for a long time, believed that "particle" should be added to the parts of speech list. It is at least as useful as "interjection".

  10. #10
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: She tells him to go. Is "to" a preposition?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I Prepositions have objects. The verb form following "to" in an infinitive is clearly not a substantive and is clearly not a prepositional object.
    I went to Paris.
    I want to work.

    If 'Paris' is the prepositional object of 'to, could it not be argued that 'work' is the prepositional object of 'to'?

    Some dictionaries call "to" from an infinitive a preposition probably because there is no other part of speech to call it. I have, for a long time, believed that "particle" should be added to the parts of speech list. It is at least as useful as "interjection".
    I don't disagree. I was merely suggesting that it is not so easy to dismiss the classification of infinitival 'to' as a preposition as it might seem to be.

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