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To situate a geographical area relatively to another, should one use preposition TO or no preposition at all in these examples: "TO the east of the USA, there is the Atlantic Ocean." or "The state of Alaska is TO the northwest of Canada." or "East of the USA, there is the Atlantic Ocean." or "The state of Alaska is northwest of Canada." Does the use of TO depend on the order of the sentence?

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  • See this NGram showing that a couple of centuries ago, a place was actually more likely to be described as to the south of [some other place to its north]. But that's very much a minority usage today, when most of us just say The state of Alaska is northwest of Canada (no to the). Apr 10, 2021 at 12:17
  • The Atlantic Ocean is on the eastern seaboard of the US. None of those to's work.
    – Lambie
    Apr 21, 2021 at 17:26
  • to can be very literary: to the north, lay the vast expanse of the Arctic.
    – Lambie
    Apr 21, 2021 at 17:27

2 Answers 2

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It really doesn't matter. A native English speaker might say it either way, either with or without the "to the."

However, I would drop the "there" in the Atlantic Ocean example. It would be better to say "East of the USA is the Atlantic Ocean" or "to the East of the USA is the Atlantic Ocean."

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Be concerned about when to.use capitalization and "the." I. can imagine a tour guide giving a preview or overview of an excursion, pointing to a map saying #1, which uses "there."

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  • Under what circumstances could you justify "East," not "east" in sentence #6 by JasonR? Apr 21, 2021 at 16:06

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