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  1. #1
    Ashraful Haque is offline Senior Member
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    We sat opposite (to) each other.

    I was searching for the difference between 'opposite to' and 'opposite of' and I came across an answer which said that you can drop the 'to' when talking about things that are physically located in opposite places or facing each other. For example:

    - They sat opposite each other.
    - I parked the car opposite the bank.
    - There's a nice park opposite my hotel.
    - The people sitting opposite us looked very familiar.
    - You'll see it on the wall opposite the door.
    - Some soldiers fought opposite their fathers, brothers, or other family members.

    I'm not sure about dropping the 'to.' Is it comparatively more natural?

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: We sat opposite (to) each other.

    Adding "to" to all those sentences would make them ungrammatical. I actually can't think of a natural sentence involving "opposite to".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. #3
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    Re: We sat opposite (to) each other.

    I have never used to or of in the first place. Also, you use opposite when I would not.

    We sat opposite each other. (We sat across from each other.)
    I parked the car across from the bank.
    There's a nice park across the street from my hotel.
    Some family members fought on opposite sides.
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  4. #4
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: We sat opposite (to) each other.

    "opposite of" is used (but not in the context of position).

    Black is the opposite of white.
    Up is the opposite of down.
    That's the exact opposite of what I thought you were going to say.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  5. #5
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    Re: We sat opposite (to) each other.

    When you follow with a place, as with all your examples in post #1, you must not use any preposition. Using a preposition would be wrong. When you follow with an object or person, it's as if we imagine that object/person to be a place in some way, because he/she occupies a position in space.


    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I actually can't think of a natural sentence involving "opposite to".
    It's not easy but there are contexts where to is the correct choice. I think this is generally in cases where you could substitute with contrary to.

    It was opposite to what you might expect.

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: We sat opposite (to) each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    It's not easy but there are contexts where to is the correct choice. I think this is generally in cases where you could substitute with contrary to.

    It was opposite to what you might expect.
    I take your point entirely, though I would say "It was the [exact] opposite of what you might expect" there.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  7. #7
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    Re: We sat opposite (to) each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Adding "to" to all those sentences would make them ungrammatical. I actually can't think of a natural sentence involving "opposite to".
    The O.E.D. defines the preposition opposite, which is not used with to, as being equivalent in meaning to the adjective opposite modified by a prepositional phrase headed by to. Cambridge, similarly, categorizes opposite as an adjective when used with to; the example it gives is You'd never know they're sistersThey're completely opposite to each other in every way). By contrast, Webster's classes opposite as an adverb when it is used with to; the example it gives is He lives in the house opposite to mine. COCA contains 664 instances of opposite to. On Google, although there are 316,000 instances of "sat opposite each other," there are still 286,000 examples of "sat opposite to each other." In light of all this, the idea that "opposite to" is ungrammatical should be next to inconceivable.
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  8. #8
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    Re: We sat opposite (to) each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    On Google, although there are 316,000 instances of "sat opposite each other," there are still 286,000 examples of "sat opposite to each other." In light of all this, the idea that "opposite to" is ungrammatical should be next to inconceivable.
    Interestingly, the third of those 286,000 links when I googled the words was a link to this British Council Q and A:

    Hello Kirk, I have a doubt with the following sentence.
    'They sat opposite each other'
    why not ' they sat opposite to each other' ?



    Hello Melody16,
    'Opposite' can have several functions in the sentence and when to use 'to' depends on this. It can be a noun, an adjective, a preposition or an adverb. When we use it to show location, as a preposition, it is used without 'to' as we do not need two prepositions in a row. Your sentence is an example of this.
    When we use 'opposite' as an adjective with the meaning '[completely] different', we need to add 'to':
    This sweater is opposite in colour to yours.
    The direction of the water is opposite to what I expected.
    When we use 'opposite' as an adverb, which is quite unusual, we do not add 'to':
    I went to the left of the room and he went opposite.
    I hope that helps to clarify it for you.
    Best wishes,
    Peter
    The LearnEnglish Team

  9. #9
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: We sat opposite (to) each other.

    How do you propose to explain away sense B.1.a from the O.E.D. (below)?

    B.adj. 1. a. Situated on the other or further side, or on either side, of an intervening line, space, or thing; contrary in position; facing. Frequently with to and (now less commonly) from; formerly also with †against.



    Said of the two ends of a line or the two sides of a line or plane, in relation to each other; of two points which are the images of each other upon reflection in a line, axis, or plane of symmetry, etc.; of two sides of an elongated figure or body which are parallel or almost parallel; and of two points of a circle which are at the ends of a diameter. In a quadrilateral, opposite sides are distinguished from adjacent sides which meet in an angle; opposite angles are at the two ends of a diagonal. Opposite sides of a street, courtyard, or the like, face each other, but opposite sides of a building face directly away from each other. The opposite angles formed by two intersecting straight lines also lie in contrary directions; hence the notion of opposite directions in sense B. 4.
    2. a. Contrary in nature, character, or tendency, etc.; diametrically different; having or expressing a contrary view, argument, etc. Frequently with to and (now less commonly) from; occasionally with than (with subordinate clause).

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  10. #10
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    Re: We sat opposite (to) each other.

    I have never found it necessary to 'explain away' any OED definition.

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