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I am reading a book named "BHAGAVAD-GITA AS IT IS". I came across the below sentence:

I Offer my respectful obeisances unto him

Further I have consulted a dictionary for the meaning for unto and I learned its meaning is to. Is there any difference in meaning if I replace to with unto for all the places? Consider the following examples:

I am going from Chicago unto New York.

My rank was improved from 5 unto 3.

The new policy applicable from software engineers unto project managers.

Are the above sentences perfectly fine or not? Are there any usage limitations for both to and unto?

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Unto is obsolete in Present-Day English; in fact, it was already obsolescing in Early Modern English. Today it survives only in texts which try to reproduce the feel and authority of the King James Version of the Bible — which is why you find it employed in translating a religious text like the Bhagavad-Gita.

Do not employ unto unless you are preaching a sermon.

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  • I wonder, is there a term for "Present-Day English" other than just that? For all other forms of English, they must have at one time dubbed themselves "Present-Day English." If no other name currently exists, I wonder what history will bestow upon us!
    – WendiKidd
    Oct 17 '13 at 23:25
  • @WendiKidd Actually, it's only since the 70s that the term PDE has begun to compete with Modern English (less often Late Modern English). I adhere to the old use and employ PDE to mean basically the English of my lifetime. Perhaps I would do better to call it Postmodern English, but I don't think it is - yet. Oct 18 '13 at 0:43
  • Sir, It is "Bhagavat Geeta" not "Vita" Jun 24 at 11:29
  • @kuntamrobo Of course it is. That was very stupid of me. I've fixed it. Jun 26 at 22:11
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As a native speaker, "to" and "unto" are not really interchangeable.

"Unto" usually has the idea of something being presented or given to someone/something.

In the other examples you showed, "to" has has a meaning of travel or direction.

In everyday communication, people would just use "to" for "direction like" phrases:

I am going from Chicago to New York.

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I've been thinking about this word for a while. I don't think I have a meaning that really satisfies me yet, but I would think it was along the lines of "went to __ for __."

"She went to her parents." vs "She went unto her parents (for her parents)." "He went to the child." vs. "He went unto the child (for the child)."

"UNTO" was stuck in my head because I read John 1:11.

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"unto" is a preposition, an archaic word (from the Middle English) and means "to". :)

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  • This doesn't answer the question, which is When should I use “To” vs “Unto”? If the question is "what is the meaning of unto?" we probably would have closed it as answerable by a dictionary.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 27 '16 at 18:28
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Use the word "unto" when you are giving something and the word "to" when you are going somewhere.

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