penetrating to/through/No prepositions

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HolyUnicorn

Senior Member
Mandarin / the Shanghai Dialect
"Light in Scotland has a quality I have not met elsewhere. It is luminous without being fierce, penetrating to immense distances with an effortless intensity. " From The Living Mountain By Nan Shepherd

I think that "penetrate" as a transitive verb means going into/through. Why does the writer add "to" here? What is the difference if I replace "to" with "through"?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Llght doesn’t go through long distances. That would imply that it came out the other side! The author meant that the light seems to travel effortlessly over long distances. The book was written more than 70 years ago, so maybe it would be written differently today.
     

    Dictatortot

    Member
    English - American South
    It sounds as if the author might be using an unspoken, implied object: "penetrating [the atmosphere] to immense distances..." If so, that would make "to" a limiting preposition, in the sense of "up to."
     

    HolyUnicorn

    Senior Member
    Mandarin / the Shanghai Dialect
    To sum up, "to' here means "up to". If "through" is used instead, that would imply that it came out the other side.

    Thanks everyone for your help.
     
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