I'm more familiar with 'in the direction' but I wonder if there's any difference in meaning.

"You're hitting it back to the direction the ball came from..."

In this case, can "in" be replaced with "to" and keep the same meaning?

1 Answer 1


can "in" be replaced with "to" and keep the same meaning?

No. English prepositions are gnarly. You can't predict which preposition will be acceptable in any given context: preposition A employed to mean X in one context may be replaced with preposition B to mean X in the next context. But that does not mean that prepositions A and B are interchangeable: context rules.

Generally, we use to or toward with a goal, a particular point or object to which movement is directed: Hit the ball to the pitcher or Run to the west if you're speaking of actually reaching the goal, Hit the ball toward the pitcher or Run toward the west if you're speaking of the path or trajectory which you expect to end at the goal.

(And there are other prepositions which may come into play. For example, for designates an intended goal: Hit for the fences means "Hit with the intention of driving the ball over the outfield fence", Run for cover means "Run with the intention of reaching cover". Note that we're very particular: you can't Hit the ball for the fences, because that imputes intention to the ball! ... At designates a goal which you intend to collide with, either literally or figuratively: Hit the ball at the off-balance pitcher, Yell at an intruder.)

BUT — the word direction always selects the preposition in: Hit the ball in that direction, Hit the ball in the direction of the pitcher, Run in a westerly direction, never to, toward, for, at.

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