I'm reading a book about the commonest mistakes foreign learners make, either in written form or while speaking. Now, some particular words are listed that give the most trouble, like this one:

suitable – for (doing something) (never *to do)

Her dress was not very suitable for wearing to a funeral.

Why is it to, and would the meaning be different if I replaced it with at?

  • You could use to, at, or for, and the basic meaning would remain the same. You could even use during, too, although that one might sound a bit odd. – J.R. Jun 25 '18 at 17:12

The preposition changes the focus. "To" implies direction and intention, while "at" implies location and presence.

Given that, it may seem a little odd to focus on going to a funeral rather than being at the funeral, but there's often little logic in idiomatic expression. "What to wear to" a funeral (or any event) is simply the more common idiom, at least at this moment in time.

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    Interestingly enough, that changes when we talk about it in past tense. – J.R. Jun 25 '18 at 16:19
  • Could you paraphrase wearing something to the funeral as wearing something in preparation to the funeral; perhaps as a relic of wearing something towards some event? Or would you say the phrase carries the connotation of bring – something like bring this piece of clothing to the funeral? I understand the general difference in meaning, but I'm not sure if I'm right about my intuition as to when I'd use it exactly. To sounds more normal, "idiomatic", while at sounds explicit with respect to location. – userr2684291 Jun 25 '18 at 16:46
  • @userr2684291 I think it's just another idiom, and possibly a relatively recent one at that. If you wear something to the event then you will be wearing it at the event, so you'd think you'd just use "at". But that's not how people talk :/ – Andrew Jun 25 '18 at 17:38

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