2

Dictionaries say that when the word translate has its linguistic meaning, we use the preposition into:

He translates English into Russian.

If my understanding is correct, using to in the example above is wrong.

But I frequently see translate used with the preposition to. I suspect that it is correct to use in the pattern from ... to ..., e.g.,

He translates from English to Russian.

Am I right? Is the pattern translate from ... into ... also correct?

So, which is correct: "to", "into", "from ... to/into ..."? What sounds more natural for a native speaker?

  • 1
    You will definitely find the answer here. – Tasneem ZH Mar 16 at 15:55
3

As I understand it, by many formal analyses you can use into, from...into, or from...to. There's also the compound adjective pattern -to-.

Translate English into Spanish.
Translate this document into Spanish.
Translate from Russian into French.
Translate from Russian to French.
Translate this document from English to Spanish.
Can I get a French-to-English translation?

This analysis would say that English to Spanish, without a from, or translate this document to Spanish, would be incorrect. I'm sure that some people do insist that it's 'incorrect' to do that.

Native speakers, in my experience, do it quite frequently. So as well as the above, you will come across:

Translate Russian to Malagasy.
Translate this document to Tamil.

To some it will suggest a poor grasp of English, or a poor education, but it's not at all unusual among native speakers, so it's not a big deal to worry about.

  • 2
    I wouldn't want to make too much of the point made in @Tasneem's link above (I'm primarily upvoting your answer because of the final words), but there is some truth to the distinction being made there (that the preposition in He translates X in / into Y largely depends on whether X and/or Y are actual languages, or translatable text elements). Which you might wish to mention in your answer. – FumbleFingers Mar 16 at 17:13
1

The correct way to say it is:

He translates English into Russian.

The sentense "He translates from English to Russian." sounds incorrect to me, however if you wanna use from, I guess it is better to say:

He translated from English to Russian.

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