JavaLatte gave an excellent answer in 2017 about the verb attach, which takes the preposition "to". My question concerns attachment in a non-physical sense. "His attachment to his ex-girlfriend made him miserable for years." Here "to" feels too physical. I find myself preferring "for" when attachment is used in a mental/emotional sense: "His attachment for his ex finally ended when he fell in love with somebody else. Attached to her, he let go of his ex." For me, the to/for issue seems to concern the noun (attachment for), not the verb (attached to). Any thoughts?

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    The choice of preposition (which is essentially a matter of established idiomatic usage, not "grammatical rules") mainly depends on the preceding noun. We normally use for after love, affection, feelings, passion and many similar terms, but to after others, such as attachment, devotion, loyalty,... – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 10 at 18:04

If it is the word "attachment" that sounds more physical in your context, you can use another word.

So, if you want to avoid this you can use a different word, like "affection for" or "passion for" - the solution to make it sound less physical is not in the preposition but in the word attachment /affection.

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  • Your cited example (for = for the purpose of...) is a different usage to the one OP is asking about (for as the preposition linking the two nouns attachment and his ex; an alternative to the more usual to in such contexts). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 10 at 17:53
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica, so how does his suggestion "attachment for" sounds to you in his context? My point is that "attachment for" may not sound better than "attachment to" if the OP worries about how physically it sounds. – Jan Feb 10 at 18:03
  • I'm somewhat surprised to discover from NGrams that his attachment for his wife did actually have at least some currency a century ago. But not today, when it's (almost) always to. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 10 at 18:07
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica NP, I edited my answer. – Jan Feb 10 at 18:08
  • ...note that no native speaker would assume any kind of "physical" attachment, regardless of the preposition. So that's just a "non-issue". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 10 at 18:09

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