Treatment of “to”


The ODE sense division is generally sound (though see next section). There are differences between NODE and ODE numbering; NODE has one additional sense, and arranges them differently. I have followed ODE. Sense 2 is unsatisfactorily lumpy and might be profitably split along various lines but I’ve left it as is for now. The sentences representing element Degree especially seem to me something separate from those representing, e.g., Result.


Notes from the spreadsheet:

New sense defined: ODE sense 3 (DIMAP 8) is somewhat lumpy, and splits naturally in FrameNet, so I have separated it. The definition wording is “identifying the person or thing affected by or receiving something.” The natural split is between the ‘affected bys’ from the ‘receivers.’ The new sense, 8(3)-1, are the affected parties; POA is almost invariably an adjective, whereas for the main sense it is nearly always a verb or a verbal noun. Look at Elements Addressee, which is the core sense, and Affected_party, which is the split sense, to get the picture.



Other instances of to that may deserve idiomatic treatment

See Quirk 16.69 for several adjectives requiring to for complementation. Most of these would fall under 14(6). Seems uncanny that none are marked in FrameNet.


See Quirk 16.50 for verbs variably requiring complementation with to. They are noted there as requiring an infinitive phrase, but those in group (iv) can take a to PP (see following note). Those in group (i) can usually take a to PP to modify their direct object.


Finally, there are a number of formulaic phrases that fall under ODE sense 2b (it’s 15 in DIMAP, reflecting (ODE’s reshuffle), and cover not only someone’s reaction (as in the given example, “to her amazement, he smiled.”) but also indicate the author of a point of view: such phrases as “to my mind,” “to them,” etc., which are often first in the sentence. These are equivalent to various other rhetorical devices, such as “in my opinion,” “as far as I’m concerned,” etc. These nearly always have a possessive or personal pronoun as complement, and I would think are easy to identify.


Other Notes:

There is a false distinction, in my mind, between ‘to’ as a preposition and ‘to’ as an infinitive marker, with constructions that allow complementation with either a PP or a VP. Many verbs and adjectives (as POAs) govern such constructions. For example, aspire. Is the ‘to’ of He aspires to win the election different from the ‘to’ of He aspires to the presidency? FrameNet parses the first as a VP, the second as a PP. ODE accommodates the VP pretty well under its list of infinitive marker senses, but the PP is not easy to assign: there is no direct correspondence with the VP sense “expressing purpose or intention.” At some point it might be useful to see which so-called “infintive marker” senses of to can also be complemented by a PP, and either mapping them to prep senses or devising new ones for them.