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The sash to his cape (preposition "to")

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by gothicpartner, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. gothicpartner

    gothicpartner Senior Member

    Bruges
    Spanish
    Hi everyone

    I'm studying some new meanings of the preposition "TO" to me, but I got stucked on understaning certain definitions.
    Here is a list of those confusing concepts:

    1) to prep (of, belonging to, for) de prep
    The sash to his cape was red. El cinturón de su capa era rojo.
    Why not "The sash OF his cape was red."?.
    In my opinion, as a native spanish speaker, Of WOULD sound way better, since it fits well in the simply rule that "OF" possessive should always be used with non-living things as in The legs of the table (the table is non-living -> use of), the windows of the mouse, etc.

    Assistant to the manager= asistente del gerente. Why not " Assistant of the manager"? . Same above!

    The Amazon is home to birds and lions= El Amazonas es casa para pájaros y leones. Why not "The Amazon is home for birds and lions"?. Why not 'The Amazon is birds' and lions' home? ( The 's possessive should always be used for animals or personified concepts.) Any difference?. they seems synonymous. I can't differentiate them.

    The secret to his success is his attention to detail.= El secreto de su éxito es su atención al detalle. Why not The secret of his success is attention to detail?

    The key to the front door= La llave de la puerta principal.
    Why not " the key of the front door" . Same above. "OF" possessive should always be used with non-living things

    the heir to the throne= El heredero al trono. Why not "Throne's heir"

    2) to prep (indicating relationship) del prep
    He says he's a third cousin to the president. Why not " He says he's a third cousin to the president as in (the example) "the wife of my best friend" (possesive usage), la mujer de mi mejor amigo.


    Well, I hope to have explained understandably my question and any help will be appreciated.

    Regards
     
  2. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    You have selected some interesting examples, and I cannot explain why but the sash of his cape sounds fine to me. If I used to I would add the word belonging. The simple to might be British usage. I would say assistant to the manager, not of. Similarly, I would say home to birds and animals, not for. I think the secret to his success is possible, though personally, I would have said the secret of his success. I would also say the key to the front door, and heir to the throne. In the last case, I would probably say: a third cousin to the president, but the third cousin of the president.

    I realize it is confusing, and I cannot explain why one is preferred over the other... simply usage.
     
  3. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    The sash belongs to, or goes with, the cape, but it is not part of it.

    You could say "the manager's assistant", but job titles are sometimes a little different from ordinary usage. The idea in "Assistant to the Manager" is that the person assists the manager and acts for the manager.

    You could say "a home for birds and lions", but home without an article is something like a proper name meaning something like "our place of residence". In "home to birds and lions", the idea is that birds and lions could call the Amazon "home", if were to grant them the ability to "call" it anything. The phrase "birds' and lions' home" is confusing in structure (Should there be one apostrophe only? Is an article missing?) as well as representing a more obvious personification.

    The key fits in the lock on the front door: it is not part of the door.

    The throne does not have an heir. The ancestor in question has an heir, and the heir inherits that ancestor's throne.

    You could say "the president's third cousin" or "one of the president's third cousins", but, whereas a person has only one wife, they may have lots of third cousins. The "job title" idea is also in play here.
     
  4. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    I agree with the others. In some of your examples gp there is an option. However in other cases we always use "to"

    Example
    The door to the kitchen was painted green. :tick:
    The door of the kitchen was painted green. :cross:
    The kitchen door was painted green.
    :tick:

    I think that in some cases there is an implied verb when we use "to". As the others have mentioned 'belong' is one such.

    Examples
    The sash [belonging] to his cape was red.
    The door [leading] to the kitchen was painted red.

    This does not apply to all of your sentences but that is for different reasons as already explained.

    Example
    I am the heir of my grandfather and therefore I am heir to a large amount of money.
     
  5. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    (I don't have a problem with "the door of the kitchen was painted green" in some contexts.)
    The correct question here is not "Why 'to'?" but "Is 'to' the only possibility?"
     
  6. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    Really? Do you have an actual sentence where this would work?
     
  7. gothicpartner

    gothicpartner Senior Member

    Bruges
    Spanish
    Interesting explanation!
    Butif we want to show possession for an object or thing we prefer the structure "of" which is more similar than the Spanish one. For instance: the title of the book, the windows of the house, etc. So, in my opinion, the sentence The door of the kitchen was painted green is perfect in English. Actually, I don't understand why it's wrong.

    After reading the posts above I deduce that:
    The door [leading] to the kitchen was painted green--> The door is not part of the kitchen (room for cooking)

    The door of the kitchen was painted green -->Oh Yeah, the door is part of the kitchen (room for cooking)

    The window of the house is square and large--> The window is part of the house
    The doors of the car are dirty-> The doors are part of the car.

    Am I wrong? why?
     
  8. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    The simple answer is that it is idiomatic in English!

    However, very often the choice of "to" or "of" changes the meaning.


    Prince Charles is heir of the Queen.
    Prince Charles is heir to the throne.


    The title of the book is Fly Fishing.
    The title to the book is held by its author J. R. Hartley."

    Does that help to explain it?
     
  9. gothicpartner

    gothicpartner Senior Member

    Bruges
    Spanish
    I agree.
    But what's your opinion about my deductions in my previous post. I sometimes think I'm misinterpretating the concepts.

    1)The door [leading] to the kitchen was painted green--> The door is not part of the kitchen (room for cooking)

    2) The door of the kitchen was painted green -->, the door is part of the kitchen (room for cooking) You said that this sentence is wrong!! why?

    The window of the house is square and large--> The window is part of the house
    The doors of the car are dirty-> The doors are part of the car.

    As above, I understand that the title is part of the book, i.e, the title is written on its cover.

    I really dont understand the usage of to here. Could you explain it more widely?
     
  10. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    Title to: (document proving) ownership of ("book" is not a good example)
    Examples

    Google search for "the door of the * was": About 151,000,000 results
     
  11. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    You're right, it wasn't the best.

    Interestingly, although it appears that I have overstated my case about kitchen doors, Google ngram shows that usage has changed over the last 50 years. Maybe that affected my subjective impression.

    Graph from Google ngram: door to the kitchen,door of the kitchen
    http://books.google.com/ngrams/grap...00&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=

    The graph shows that prior to the 1970s "door of the kitchen" was used more but that at around 1975 the positions reversed. I offer no conclusions but I find it interesting.
     
  12. Debiera New Member

    USA
    American English
    I agree with almost everything people have said, but I am going to give my own take on the questions. I may be repeating some of what people have already said... sorry.



    GothicPartner, I am going to say something that you already know: English is not Spanish. :)... So, that being said, there will be some things that are not going to be the same. You will just need to learn how we say it in English and say it that way. And I believe that that is what you are trying to do with this post! :)

    As Forero said, "The Amazon is home to birds and lions" could be interpreted to mean that the animals would consider the Amazon to be their home. If you said "the Amazon is home for birds and lions," it sounds like you are meaning that someone designated that place as home for birds and lions. They created it for the purpose of giving those animals a place to live. And you could possibly say "The Amazon is the birds' and lions' home, but it just doesn't flow too well. It sounds awkward haha.

    I think both sentences could be acceptable.

    "The key to the front door" is the key that is used for the purpose of opening the front door. You can also say "the house key." Same thing for the key to the car. It can be called "the car key."

    This is a fixed expression. It always said "the heir to the throne." I am sure you might hear it in another way but the acceptable way is this one.

    I think you might say "He's one of the president's third cousins," but it sounds a little strange to say "he's a third cousin of the president."

    It would sound better to say "the car doors are dirty." It seems to me that in English we prefer to not use the "of" structure to be used for possession most of the time. We prefer to move the object of the pronoun (car, in this case) in front of the object that it possesses (doors, in this case). We also prefer using the possessive 's.

    I hope this helps... :D
     
  13. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    I'll just pick up on one of Debiera's points.

    The reason we don't say "Throne's heir" is because it is plain wrong. For example, Prince Charles is the Queen's heir.

    Thrones are inanimate and so they do not have heirs. Only people have heirs.
     
  14. donbeto

    donbeto Senior Member

    Vancouver (Canada)
    Eng(Canada)
    I'm not good at finding rules, I just talk the way I talk. But maybe there is a bit of a trend (I doubt you will *ever* find a hard and fast rule in English).

    "To" seems to be related to something apart from, but can be joined with, something else. The door to the kitchen can mean the door that will lead you to the kitchen. The outside door. It will lead you outside. The door to the outside, but never the of the outside, is the outside door.

    The car keys - not part of the car, but are sometimes joined with it. You can say "Do you have the keys to the car", but I have never heard of the car.

    So, is there a rule here? Dunno. I'm just thinking out loud. Somebody else with more knowledge will have to turn this hodgepodge into something meaningful.
     

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