I read an exercise of prepositions. Here is one sentence:

Los Angeles is ____the west of New York.

You may choose one preposition from the following:

from, on, to, in and of

Is it correct to put the preposition ON into the sentence?

Los Angeles is ON the west of New York.


In your sentence

Los Angeles is to the west of New York.

is the correct answer. You could think of "to" as replacing "towards" and also signifying a greater distance.

(source: evrus.net)

"On" can also be used to show direction, and sometimes implies a closer distance

The Hudson River is on the west side of Manhattan.
The Hudson River is to the west of Manhattan.

Newark is to the west of Manhattan.
Newark is not on the west side of Manhattan.



The answer is to.

You can use the construct to the [direction] of to indicate the position or location of something relative to something else, where [direction] is typically left, right or a cardinal direction (south, north, etc.)

You can also use to [possessive] [direction]; this is much more common with left and right than with cardinal directions.

Here are some examples:

  • Los Angeles is to the west of New York.
  • The book is to Joe's right.
  • There is a tree to your left.
  • 3
    It's true that in OP's exact context, to is far more likely, but I think that's at least partly because X is on the west of Y might be taken to imply X actually lies within the boundary of Y (on the west side). I'm pretty sure on would be more common than to in your last example, where no such ambiguity is possible. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 4 '16 at 17:46
  • @FumbleFingers When I hear "on your left" I think of a tour guide pointing things out. I would probably say "to your left" rather than "on your left" in the tree instance. – barbecue Oct 4 '16 at 20:43
  • @barbecue: Only Turn to your left works, but Look on your right is at least credible (to is much more likely though). Anyway, here's a chart backing up my point re door XX your left, XX your left is, where on wins. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 4 '16 at 23:05
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    @FumbleFingers: Note that bringing the ngram to 2008 (the most recent it goes), brings "to your left" almost level with "on your left". – MichaelS Oct 5 '16 at 3:15
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    We can also look at "tree to/on your left", where we see "to" has caught up by 2008. I'd say these are cases where either word is pretty typical. – MichaelS Oct 5 '16 at 3:18

It's also acceptable to omit the preposition, and just say "Los Angeles is west of New York." This kind of usage is common in conversational speech.

  • 1
    While right, I think this should probably have been a comment rather than an answer. But to add to it anyway: This answer has the correct, idiomatic, phrase. If I hear "X is to the west of Y", I interpret that X is west of Y, but not by very much. Hence Newark is to the west of New York, whereas Los Angeles is west of New York. – AndyT Oct 5 '16 at 9:53

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