4

It is two miles from here to the hotel.

It is two miles from the hotel to here.

The first example is commonly seen with no problem, but the second one seems not right. CGEL says "here" is an adverb and can't be used as a noun. As a result, we can say " come here" but can't say "come to here". If so, in the two examples, "from" and " to" are both prepositions; why is "from here" right but " to here" isn't right?

4
  • 2
    The second one is unidiomatic, not so much because of the grammar (there was a BBC TV drama called "From there to here") but because we usually express distances the other way round, or in different words. "They won't take long to come from the hotel, it's only two miles" for example. Jan 3, 2022 at 17:32
  • @Kate Bunting, Thanks. I also saw another sentence from OED- How far is it to your house from here? So, for the first example, can I say " It is two miles to the hotel from here" instead ?
    – user421993
    Jan 3, 2022 at 17:35
  • Yes, or "It is two miles from here to the hotel". Jan 3, 2022 at 17:45
  • 1
    I don't think the second one is unidiomatic. It depends on what exactly you are describing.
    – Lambie
    Jan 3, 2022 at 17:53

3 Answers 3

4

I'm not 100% sure on "correct" in this case, but from an idiomatic standpoint you don't want to reference your starting point from somewhere other than your current location when your current location is one of the two mentioned locations.

Or, to use to in this context, you have to be going to somewhere, but here is where you already are. You can come from here, but you can't come to here as you're already here.

Come here would always be used speaking to another, so here from your perspective is a correct reference point for whoever you're speaking to.

Similarly, going back to the original sentence (@gotube's comment):

I cannot come here since I'm always where I am, but if someone else is at the hotel and they're coming to where I am, then "...from the hotel to here" is grammatically and semantically correct.

As best as I know, not using to in front of here is "just one of those rules" in English. Like there, home, up, down, upstairs, and downstairs.

You could instead say:

The hotel is two miles from here.

5
  • Thanks, I learn a lot.
    – user421993
    Jan 3, 2022 at 17:38
  • @user421993 me too, in trying to look things up to verify what I thought I knew ;) Glad it's helpful!
    – TCooper
    Jan 3, 2022 at 17:42
  • I cannot come here since I'm always where I am, but if someone else is at the hotel and they're coming to where I am, then "...from the hotel to here" is grammatically and semantically correct.
    – gotube
    Jan 3, 2022 at 18:48
  • @gotube I meant to have covered that with "Come here would always be used speaking to another, so here from your perspective is a correct reference point for whoever you're speaking to." However it is different, just also referencing another rather than yourself. Mind if I copy/paste your comment into the answer? (going to unless told not to) I'm not sure I can phrase it more clearly or almost definitely not as concisely :)
    – TCooper
    Jan 3, 2022 at 18:50
  • @TCooper please do!
    – gotube
    Jan 3, 2022 at 19:02
2

If there's a verb of motion (come, drive, walk, travel, etc) then it's followed by "here" rather than "to here". I've no idea how grammarians would formulate this rule.

Without such a verb, describing "the distance from X to here" does need the "to", and "It's 5 miles from the hotel to here" is correct; it's just much more usual to describe the inverse distance from here to the hotel. But where it's not a symmetric relationship, that's not possible: "It's downhill all the way from the hotel to here".

1
  • So, can I interpret the " rule"(if any) as , we say " It's two miles from here" or " It's two miles to (a specific place) " in common cases and " It's two miles from (a specific place) to here" in a specific case or situation.
    – user421993
    Jan 4, 2022 at 15:27
1

Both of these sentences are grammatical and do not read as "wrong" to me (a native speaker) — but you are right there is something unusual about the second sentence.

In fact, I would say that the second sentence is not so much unusual as it is less usual. That is, the first sentence works generally, no matter what the context of your conversation is, insofar as that context includes you being somewhere two miles away from a hotel known to both you and whoever you are talking to. This is usually how you'd talk about such a situation!

But, once in a while, there would be a time when the second sentence is even more useful than the first! It's the middle of the winter, your car is stuck in a snow drift, and you're on the phone with your colleague who drove separately to the after-conference party. You are trying to convince him/her to come pick you up, but he (or she) suggests that it's fine, you should just walk to the hotel. "The hotel is two miles from here! It's freezing and I don't even have a jacket on!" You bark incredulously into your smartphone.

All this to say the second sentence works fine in a specific case of emphasizing that you are here, and the hotel is two miles distant.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .