Preposition “near” Doesn’t Need a “to”

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Daniel writes:
The expression “near to X, Y, or Z” is becoming prevalent, even in the Times (of London).  What’s wrong with “near”?  Is there any linguistic ammunition that can be fired in the direction of this misuse?

The question comes from England and most of the “near to” examples I found by cruising the web I found on British sites:

“There are [sic] a distinct lack of pubs near to the ground (sports field) as it is built away from other buildings.

the pub is near to the junction with the A34

The church is near to Charing Cross, Waterloo and Blackfriars stations.

This caption is the only “near to” I was able to find for the US:

Panorama from the lawn behind Living Stones Church near to Kailua-Kona. –Hawaiian tourist site.

Plenty examples of near without the unnecessary “to” are to be found on British sites:

Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave.

information about St Cwyfans Church, near Aberffraw

Wembley Arena Hotels offers great rates on over 50 hotels near Wembley Arena.

American usage definitely favors near without a “to”:

Other attractions near our Houston, Texas hotel include…

Situated near some of the most recognizable landmarks in Washington DC, this hotel provides easy access to renowned monuments,

Patent attorneys located near the US Patent Office

People visiting the Little Rock area can find several hotels near Verizon Arena that offer suite accommodations.

The adverb nearby sometimes gets lumbered with “to.” In this example the preposition is used without the extra word, but the adverb gets a “to”:

Nearby to the pub is the “hidden” 13th century church of St John the Baptist – the most isolated church in Surrey. The pub is near the T-junction at the top.

Not everyone sees the tacked-on “to” as an error. I came across this “tip” on an ESL site:

Use the preposition ‘near’ with or without ‘to’ for the same meaning. Ex. He lives near (to) the bank. My friends play soccer near (to) my office building.

Adding a “to” after the preposition is grammatically unnecessary. Nothing is lost by dropping the “to” in the following examples:

the pub is near the junction with the A34

The church is near Charing Cross

Can it be a regional thing?

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15 thoughts on “Preposition “near” Doesn’t Need a “to””

  1. Regarding using “near to” instead of “near”: I suspect the persons making that error are trying to emulate the couple :”away from”.
    They must be thinking “If ‘away from’ is correct then ‘near to’ must be correct. Duh??? They must not comprehend that the word “near” already implies the word “to”.

    Regarding the elimination of the letter z: I think it is idiotic to replace z by x at the start of a word! Z is NOT x !!! Xerox is spelled with an x because it is derived from the Greek word xero—which means “dry”—as xeroxing is a dry way of making a copy on paper. And in Greek the pronunciation of xero is Ksero—so there is a real function in spelling it with an x, xero. Of course, we English speakers can’t pronounce the ks sound so we just pronounce th x as a z.
    If we really want to spell zerox the way we say it we should spell it zerox—which brings back the lowly z.

    Regarding changing American English spellings to mimic the British spellings—wouldn’t be more productive if the Brits stopped mimicking the French with their “-our” endings, as in “labour”? The Brits would do well to spell the word “labor” as we Americans do.

  2. “My horse thinks it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near.”

    “To” is not necessary.

    “Where are you” or “where are you at” usually pronounced without the word “are”.
    The preposition is an artifact of an ethnic upbringing.

    We used to say “chill out”. Now, just “chill”. Preposition dropped.

  3. I suspect that “near to” is the creation of undereducated British estate agents who are using the “to” as a means of inflating the value of a property they’re trying to flog.

    They must have realized that writing in the “particulars” of a property that “The cottage is near to the local high street” makes a house appear to much closer to the center of town than to say simply that it “is near the local high street”.

    And to be fair, I need to point out to Americans that when it comes to unneeded prepositions, one need look no further than the repulsive “off of”, as in “During the earthquake dishes fell off of the shelves”. What’s wrong with “off the shelves” already?

  4. “Near to” doesn’t seem at all incorrect or unusual to me. I think this must be just one more example of the many transatlantic cultural differences! Speaking as a Brit married to an American I could give you scores of them.

    On the subject, why do you guys spell “advertise” with an S? And why do you say “you guys” instead of just “you”?!

    I recently blogged about some of these differences myself:

  5. It is not just a matter of trans-Atlantic differences as it is a matter of trans-educational differences. No one ever said that lack of education is restricted to only one side of the Atlantic. Nolo contendere!

    Steve McIntosh is not concerned with whether the extra “to” is necessary—but only with whether it is “acceptable.” Of course it is acceptable to those who don’t care whether it is “necessary.” The only thing that is “unacceptable” is when we fail to communicate—and messing up the language is a good way to start not communicating.

    There are many “faux pas’s” that can be mentioned other than the “near to” faux pas.

    Yes—“Where are you at” is just as annoying as “Where you at?” which is less annoying than “Where you be?”
    What about those who think they are speaking the Queen’s English by using the word “whence”—and then they spoil it by saying “from whence they came.”–when “whence they came” is sufficient. Of course, when enough people use it incorrectly it winds up as optionally “correct’ in the people dictionary. 🙁

  6. “…Regarding the elimination of the letter z: I think it is idiotic…”

    Yes, and I have a whole language dedicated to this kind of thought: Esparanto.

  7. @Andy Knoedler:

    Nothing American about “off of.” My wife says it all the time, and she is from Surrey … the one in England.


  8. A simply look at some dictionaries’ entries should have explained this dilemma. It’s typically British.

    Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Terms, 4th edition (2003):
    NEAR adv, prep
    1) only a short distance from a person or thing; => close, nearby: “They live near London.” “I’m sure they lide somewhere near here.” “They move house to be nearer the school.” [+to] especially BrE: “a hotel near to the beach.”

    Cambridge International Dictionary of English also brings example sentences with “near to”.

    Hope this sheds some light on the discussion.

  9. for ESL students this is a common mistake since in Spanish we say behind of… beside of and near to or from but none of these prepositions need an additional one; This is supposed to be an explanation for students to avoid “spanglish”

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