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is it (under any circumstance) grammatically correct to say:

It is better "to" students to focus on one major

if it is, what's the difference in meaning with the following structure:

It is better "for" students to focus on one major

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It is better "to" students to focus on one major

This construction is confusing two different uses of "to"

  • As a preposition, as in "to students"
  • As part of an infinitive, as in "to focus"

When used as a preposition

The meaning is that the subject of the sentence is treating the object of the preposition in a more positive/beneficial way than some other.

  • Father is better to Mary than to Jack.

  • Tony is better to Pepper now that he has matured.

In each case, it is a person's treatment that is being described, not how preferable the outcome is.

When used as part of an infinitive

The meaning is that the outcome of the action will be preferable:

It is better to focus on one major. (the situation will be improved)

The problem in trying to combine the two is that the subject "it" is not treating the OP "students" in any manner at all.

It is better to students to focus on one major.*


The only circumstance I can think of which could possibly make this construction valid would be if "it" refers to a sentient object studying at school and the purpose of the sentient object's better treatment of fellow-students is for the purpose of focusing on just one major.

During AI3000's first semester at the university, it attempts to double major in psychology and the humanities. One of the psychology classes gives AI3000 the idea of secretly committing acts of cruelty against its fellow students in order to observe their reactions. However, this conflicts with its study in the humanities where lessons encourage it to try to help and understand its human neighbors.

After analyzing its progress, AI3000 decides it would be better served to focus on only one of the two majors. During the second semester it continues in the humanities and puts its study of psychology on hold, thus stopping its actions of cruelty. It is better to students to focus on one major.

So, there is a circumstance under which this contstruction is grammatical, however, it has a very different meaning from "It is better for students to focus on one major."

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Both are correct but different in usage.

It is better "to" students to focus on one major.

This first sentence indicates that "focusing on one major" is beneficial to students.

It is better "for" students to focus on one major.

But this sentence indicates that "focusing on one major" is considerate to students' point of view.

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    Grammarly marks the first sentence as wrong. Do you have any reference for your answer? – Mansour Zayer Aug 31 '18 at 11:51
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    The first one reads awkwardly to me, too. I'd probably use for, or else word it like this: It is better if students focus on one major. – J.R. Sep 4 '18 at 19:13

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