I've come across the expression "opens to" in an article from the New York Times:

In the transcendent wordless picture book “Lines,” Suzy Lee (“Wave,” “Shadow”) uses her pencil to draw the reader into layers of her imagination. The book opens to a drawing of a blank page, with only a pencil and eraser. From there, we follow a lone, red-capped ice skater who glides on an expanse of white ice, her skates creating a trailing line behind here.

And I found a similar expression here:

...there are some funny, insightful moments – it opens to her describing a dream, in which she gives birth to herself, to her friend...

Does "opens to" mean "opens with" or "begins with" in these two examples?

1 Answer 1


This may sound very confusing, but I'm finding it hard to put it into words. You could argue that they could be used interchangeably, but I leave that to you.

Roughly, yes.

When you use the usage 'opens to', in contexts involving books or movies (or even plays), you could literally take the phrase as you read it. A book opens, a play or a movie starts. As you mentioned, 'opens with' and 'opens to' implies the same thing - "to starts with" or "begins with".

However, there are subtle differences between 'opens to' and 'opens with'. Let me explain this with a few examples.

"The book opens to a scenic village in western Europe, the comforting warmth of a mid-summer breeze..."

Here, 'opens to', gives the reader a feeling that he/ she is transported from where he/ she was, to the places within in the story.

"The movie opens with the scream of a little girl, who is nowhere to be seen, but can distinctly be heard, echoing through the hollow corridors of the old school..."

Here, 'opens with' illustrates a situation, or an event.

Although very subtle, it may be used differently.

  • 1
    Thanks for your explanation and pointing out the subtlety! Very instructive.
    – congeebone
    Jan 30, 2018 at 9:43

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