What's the different between "tie on" and "tie to"? for example when one says:

He tied the string to the trolley.


He tied the string on a firm place.

Both are correct? what's the clue?

  • 2
    I would prefer tied ... to in both cases. The preposition on would imply that the string is resting atop the firm place, but something that is tied would encircle the object it was tied to, it wouldn't rest on top.
    – PMV
    Jan 1, 2017 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


tie to

is used to express restriction of movement.

The boat was tied to the dock.
Tie the horse to the tree so he won't get away.

tie on

is used to describe how something is attached

The wreath was tied on the front of the trolley.
The bikini was tied on by spaghetti straps.


"Tied to" is the usual way of talking about attaching two or more things together.

"Tied on", while it can be used for attaching things, is perhaps more often used for tying something in place: "He tied the laces on his shoes", "She tied the bow on the package".

Where "tied on" is used for attachment, it seems to always involve tying something to the top of something else: "She tied the tarpaulin on the roof rack", "He tied his bedroll on his horse".

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