I am so confused about using preposition after certain verbs. What is the difference in meaning between "climb" and "climb to" ?

1-The prisoners climbed the wall and escaped. (Climbed over it)

2-The car slowly climbed the hill. (So are we sure that the car reached the top of the hill ? )

3-I climb to the top. (My aim is the top, I go for it)

4-He saw a secret place above the trees—he could climb to it. (He could reach the top of it ? )

What I am trying to ask is that when using "to" after certain verbs (like climb) , what is the function of it ? Is it just indicating a final place where we want to end up ? or ıs it indicating the direction where we are going through ?

I think using "climb" with no preposition indicate just the action we are doing. "He is climbing the wall" means he is on the wall and going up/down/left/right etc. on the wall.

If I use "he climbed the hill" , I don't know if he reached the top of that hill so all I know is that he did the action of going up/down/left/right etc on the hill. Probably successfully completed the climbing the hill.

2 Answers 2



To climb: go or come up (a slope, incline, or staircase), especially by using the feet and sometimes the hands; ascend.

"we began to climb the hill"

Climb (to): When you climb to a place your aim is to reach that place.

"He climbed to the top of the mountain"

(The top of the mountain was where he wanted to get to, so he climbed to it.)

To indicates direction. If you're climbing a mountain and you climb TO the highest place on the mountain, it means that you're going to that highest place.

  • When using "climbed to", can we understand that he achived that goal without getting more context. And I don't get that part of your answer "it means that you went to that highest place". Mar 18, 2019 at 18:13
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    Happy 1,000, Kyle. Not bad for 21 days!
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    Mar 18, 2019 at 18:59
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Transitive climb has as its object the surface or object on which or in which the climbing happens. It doesn't necessarily mean the subject climbed all the way to the top, but it often does have that implication.

Intransitive climb just means "move upwards" in some way or other. Like any verb of motion it can have various spatial adjuncts introduced by appropriate prepositions: to, from, over, across, between, around etc. The meaning of the adjunct is as specified by the preposition.

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    When using "climbed to the top of the hill", can we understand that he achived that goal without getting more context? Mar 18, 2019 at 18:51
  • @TalhaÖzden: yes, just as with any other verb of motion. He walked/ran/sprinted/crawled/cycled/drove/flew/pulled a cart/dragged his brother/teleported to the top of the hill implies that he got there.
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 18, 2019 at 20:44

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