1. Small is the opposite of big.
  2. Small is opposite to big.

Is the second statement grammatical? It sounds okay to me, but only if I leave out the the.

3 Answers 3


Not in the way you are using it.

"Small is the opposite of big" is saying that the two words mean opposing things. This is okay, because "of" indicates a difference in essence.

"Small is opposite to big", however, indicates an opposition in physical position. It suggests that "X" is in the opposite position compared to "Y". The "to" in this phrase indicates a physical opposition, where the words "small" and "big" do not have physical entities to represent them, and it would only make sense if you were putting the words physically in a list, and saying they were opposite to each other on that list.


If you mean that small is the antonym of big, then (1) is the normal construction. Opposite to is sometimes used for things that face each other, but to is often omitted.

  • In a grammar test I failed by choosing Opposite to. The correct answer was next to. Then I found myself here. The car park is _________________ to the restaurant. a)next b)opposite . from Macmillan placement test. Keys say a is correct. Why not b ? Nov 5, 2019 at 9:06

No, 2. is not grammatically okay. The preposition to is fine, but you cannot use the zero article when the noun opposite is singular. Also, formally, some kind of punctiation or different formatting is needed to show that you have converted the adjectives small and big to nouns, which indeed you have.

Opposite can function either as an adjective, adverb, preposition or noun. You inquire about the latter, but I'll cover the preposition too, because opposite in 2. resembles a preposition.


DEF: That which is opposed or contrary.

  • a) USAGE: the opposite of, an opposite of

    This is the opposite of what I expected. Active learning is the opposite of passive learning. Habit is the opposite of intimacy. She's quite shy, the exact opposite of Becky. What's the opposite of “optimistic”? “Wet” is the opposite of “dry.”

  • b) USAGE: the opposite to, an opposite to

    The effect of the medication was opposite to that intended. It was a political philosophy that was opposite to everything she believed in. She was the complete opposite to her sister.

  • c) USAGE: the opposite, an opposite (preposition elided)

    If anything, the opposite was true.

  • d) USAGE: opposites, the opposites (plural)

    The two men were complete opposites - Simon tall and fair, Clive short and dark. The terms “black” and “white” are opposites. I hope you comprehend the opposites that I have just described.


  • e) DEF: Across from and facing; accross from and on the same level with. USAGE: opposite

    I parked the car opposite the bank. There's a nice park opposite my hotel. The people sitting opposite us looked very familiar. You'll see it on the wall opposite the door. They sat opposite each other. Some soldiers fought opposite their fathers, brothers, or other family members.

  • f) DEF: In a role complementary to. USAGE: opposite

    It is a comedy in which he stars opposite Julia Roberts.

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