I know that we can use “on” with “influence,” so I think it is fine to say a sentence like

  • “Metallica was a huge influence on me.”

But I wonder if it is also fine to use either “for” or “to” with it as well. The sentence with “for” sounds okayish to me but I feel like “to” may be more wrong to use. I am more used to hearing “to” with “inspiration” rather than “influence” as in

  • “Metallica was a huge inspiration to me.”

Do you think these sentences below are fine at least in colloquial language? I found instances of both “for” and “to” being used by native English speakers along with influence, but I wanted to get your opinions as well. I prefer to use on which I think is more idiomatic.

  • “Metallica was a huge influence for me.”

  • “Metallica was a huge influence to me.”

Context: A musician is talking about the musicians that influenced him in his life.

  • Since Metallica is a group of musicians, most British and many US English speakers would probably prefer 'Metallica were a huge influence on me' - Ninety per cent of the people in those sold-out arenas didn't know who Metallica were, and they blew people's brains out New Yorker (USA), and In the mid-1980s, Metallica were at the peak of their powers Far Out magazine (UK). Mar 20, 2023 at 11:26
  • @MichaelHarvey Thank you. I know British people would say it that way, but I speak American English and I can hear Americans use the singular auxiliary with band names. Mar 21, 2023 at 5:49

1 Answer 1


The idiomatic expression you are looking for is "an influence on me". 'Influence' was apparently an astrological term in Middle English, so it isn't surprising that we usually speak of something having an influence "on" or "over" something.

This is one occasion where an ngram of Google books is helpful in eliminating any doubt as to which one is idiomatic because we can say for example "he was influenced to start a band", so there could be some more contrived contexts where the other prepositions are used as in your question.

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