Often it has been noticed that most people get stuck between the words, ’To’ and ‘With’. This is because both the prepositions have got more or less the same meaning. However, if you look closely into the meanings of each of the prepositions, you would be surprised to know that they differ a lot from each other.

So what is the difference between ‘to’ and ‘with’? To explain it in brief, ‘To’ is used when we are trying to indicate a purpose, or a destination of a particular thing whereas ‘with’ is used when talking about multiple things together.

Keep reading the article to know more about the prepositions ‘to’ and ‘with’ and also how they vary from each other.

What Does ‘To’ Denote?

‘To’ is used when we are talking about any action in a specified direction or plan. For example,

  • ‘Stella was planning to leave for New York soon.’
  • ‘The class wanted to throw a farewell to their seniors.’
  • ‘Maya was supposed to work under me.’

Another usage of the word ‘to’ is when there is some reference about time or a range. For example,

  • ‘The prize distribution will be between 8 pm to 10 pm.’
  • ‘The ticket will cost you somewhere between 25 dollars to 30 dollars.’
  • ‘The show will take 10 more minutes to start.’

Apart from the above-mentioned uses, ‘To’ is also used to express ownership over something or possession. For example,

  • ‘My teacher was like a guide to me.’
  • ‘In relation to the sales that we have made, the profit is negligible.’
  • ‘For John, her grandfather was an inspiration to him.’

Sometimes, ‘To’ is also used as a way to express an endpoint. For example,

  • ‘I won’t like to end the presentation in such a way.’
  • ‘John didn’t work so hard to lose in the finale.’
  • ‘Sheldon  was unaware about the next step that needs to be taken.’

Over and above this, ‘To’ is used to indicate some duty or work that has to be done. For example,

  • ‘Sam has to get this work done by Wednesday.’
  • ‘Both the sisters decided to clean the house before 9 o’clock.’
  • ‘The project head has asked me to finish all the work immediately.’

What Does ‘With’ Denote?

‘With’ is used in many different ways, but the most common usage of ‘with’ is to use with when something is accompanied by other things. For example,

  • ‘I would like to have a drink with my meal.’
  • ‘Along with being intelligent, she was also very humble.’
  • ‘Kate had to attend extra lectures along with the regular ones.’

‘With’ is also used when people are together or doing some things together. For example,

  • ‘Will was having dinner with George.’
  • ‘I am going to the mall with my friends.’
  • ‘It is almost impossible to work with a guy like Greg.’

Moreover, ‘With’ is also used when it is used in relation to making use of something. For example,

  • ‘She wiped the table with the help of a tissue.’
  • ‘Noah washed his car with some new cleaner.’
  • ‘They started the business with their own funds.’

In addition to the above-mentioned uses, ‘with’ is also used when an object has got some additional features to it. For example,

  • ‘Molly is a beautiful girl with long hair.’
  • ‘He spoke with a fake accent.’
  • ‘He woke up with sweat all over his face.’

Sometimes, ‘with’ is also used in relation to something. For example,

  • ‘Canada had signed an agreement with the UK government.’
  • ‘While delivering her speech Ms. Elizabeth spoke a lot about her experience with the leader.’
  • ‘Rachel is very bad with kids.’

Difference Between ‘To’ And ‘With’

Now that we have seen the meaning of each of the terms, let’s have a look at the differences between both the prepositions.

Meaning

‘With’ is used when referring to more than one thing or people. It is used when one thing is accompanied by another. For example,

  • ‘Get me some cheese with the nachos.’
  • ‘Sarah was with Ally when the accident took place.’

Whereas, ‘to’ is used when indicating some purpose or a goal. For example,

  • ‘I will try my best to make things work between us.’
  • ‘She was working hard so as to get a promotion.’

Usage

‘To’ can be used as an infinitive verb which means it does not act as a preposition but takes the place of a verb. For example,

  • ‘I will try to make a better presentation.’
  • ‘I will try to sleep early as I have a big day tomorrow.’
  • ‘I want to be a writer.’

As such cannot be used in any other form apart from being used as a preposition.

Comparison Chart: ‘To’ Vs ‘With’

Point Of DifferenceToWith
Scope‘To’ has got a wider usage than compared to ‘with’‘With’ has a comparatively limited scope.
Directed towards‘To’ is usually directed towards one person or one thing.When ‘With’ is used it is directed to two or more things.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does The Idiom “With Flying Colors” mean?

The idiom ‘with flying colors’ indicates when someone has or will perform exceptionally well. This is used especially for one's performance in a competition or examination. For example:

‘Samatha did exceptionally well in her exams and cleared them with flying colors.’
‘Congratulations! You finished your apprenticeship with passing colors.’

What Does The Idiom “To Hit Below The Belt ” mean?

The idiom ‘To hit below the belt has its origin from the game of boxing where hitting below the belt is considered to be illegal. The idiom means to target someone’s weakness or vulnerability in an unfair manner for one’s benefit. For example:

“After I had a fight with my best friend, she abused me and that was just a hit below the belt!” 

Conclusion

We know that English is a complex language and therefore we suggest you practice it as much as possible. With continuous efforts, you will get a grip over the rules over a period of time.

We hope that this article has cleared all your doubts regarding the usage of the prepositions ‘to’ and ‘with’ and the similarities that they have got. So the next time you find yourself confused between using ‘to’ or ‘with’, do follow the above-mentioned guidelines to avoid any silly mistakes!

References

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/with

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/to