a big improvement in/to her condition

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Couch Tomato

Senior Member
Russian & Dutch
Maggie is still in hospital, but there has been a big improvement . . . . . . her condition in the last couple of days.
(Advanced Grammar in Use – Martin Hewings)

The key only gives in as a possible answer, but doesn't to also work? I googled it, and some websites and books use it to talk about a medical condition.

What do you think? Would to here work equally well?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I think 'in' implies that the improvement is intrinsic, that is, originating from within.

    With 'to', I believe the improvement is extrinsic, that is, originating from an outer source, as in, They made improvements to the software.
     
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    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    "She has meningitis and in the last couple of days there has been a big improvement in her condition."

    I can't imagine myself saying to in this sentence, although Estjarn's point seems to work.
     
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    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Thank you, EStjarn, e2efour and Parla.

    Well, in that case "to" is wrong and "in" is the right choice. Still, I'm curious could we under no circumstances use "to"? What about these examples?

    I observed the woman with an issue of blood that had suffered for twelve years. There was no improvement to her condition. Instead, her issue grew worse. This woman spent all her money seeing physicians that she thought could bring change to her situation.
    (A Woman and Her Issues: Getting to the Root of Your Problems - Rhonda B. Hurst)

    The family physician has been treating the child by syringing the ears several times daily, and using drops which discolored the meatus, and giving internally a preparation of iron, but without any improvement to her condition.
    (Archives of Pediatrics - Volume 11)

    She had spent two winters in California, her first winter with great improvement to her condition, but the last winter she began to fail, doubtless owing to the fact that she was unable to secure as good diet as during the first winter.
    (The North American Practioner - Volume 8)

    Admittedly, I couldn't find many examples with "to" and that's probably the key here, but could the use of "to" be justified in these examples? My guess is that it can't be, taking into account what EStjarn said about the difference between "to" and "in".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I think that there is a difference here.

    "There has been a big improvement in her condition" means, effectively, "she has improved". In other words, she has gone from 'critical' to 'stable' (for example).

    "There has been a big improvement to her condition" means, in contrast, "her ailment - her ezcema (or whatever) - has seen an improvement".

    In the original context, I would definitely expect "in". Indeed, in most situations, I would expect "in":).
     

    Couch Tomato

    Senior Member
    Russian & Dutch
    Thanks, Loob.

    In the original context, I would definitely expect "in". Indeed, in most situations, I would expect "in":).
    I can see why. Normally we would talk about someone's general condition, not the condition of the ailment.
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    What about these examples?
    I notice that two of your new example sentences (#2 and #3) are saying that something 'was done' to the patient. Examining sentence #1 closer, I still feel that the implication with 'to' is that the source of the improvement is supposed to come from without. In other words, I don't think 'to' is the proper choice of preposition in that sentence, unless context suggests otherwise.
     
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    lgr632525968

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi,

    I wonder whether I can say my condition is getting better supposing that I have got a severe headache and I am feeling much better.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I wonder whether I can say my condition is getting better supposing that I have got a severe headache and I am feeling much better.
    You can say that, Igr, but it would probably sound more natural to say: I'm feeling much better. My headache is going away.
     
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