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I am confused about the second “to” used in the below sentence. Is it for “ways ‘to’ a smaller budget” but there is no verb in this clause? Is it for “respecting ‘to’ a smaller budget” but it seems to make no sense in meaning? Can I just delete the second “to”? Or can I change the “to” with other prepositions without changing the meaning of the whole sentence, for instance “with”? Could anyone please explain it?

And even in regions where new projects seem warranted, we must find ways to meet demands with fewer resources, respecting ecological criteria and to a smaller budget.

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    This seems to be about the meaning of to as in "to a target", "to a price point", "to a degree", "to a goal", "to a limit". It seems a bit basic for English Language & Usage.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 21 at 8:34
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    @StuartF But the (seeming) false parallelism means that this sentence is in poor style if not downright incorrect, and worthy of consideration on either site. By "false parallelism" I am referring to the fact that the first "to" isn't the same as the first to. It's not clear whether the author intends to associate "a smaller budget" with "to meet demands with fewer resources," as the attempt at parallelism implies, or with "respecting ecological criteria," which is more logical because they are both consequences of using fewer resources. If the latter, the sentence is very wrong indeed.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 21 at 11:16
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    I'd say it's ungrammatical. I'd want ...'and working within/to a smaller budget' to maintain parallelism with the -ing clause 'respecting ecological criteria'. Commented Jun 21 at 11:47

2 Answers 2

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It struck me as ungrammatical as well, though a generous reading would take that second to as a preposition, unlike the first, where it's the marker for the infinitive, and as some kind of rhetorical flourish. Syllepsis, perhaps.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

We must find ways ... to a smaller budget. [i.e. ways to reduce the cost]

Coordination with and should respect the structure of the first element and repeat it in the second.

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  • It might be good, to avoid confusing the OP and future visitors, to be a little less generous: though there could be some way of making sense of similar constructions, I don't think there's a way to regard the sample, as given, as correct. Commented Jun 21 at 15:19
  • @AndyBonner If you read through to the final sentence in the answer, you will see that I have indeed expressed an opinion that is less generous to the original author.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 21 at 16:22
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It seems to be a mistake. My guess is that a word was left out, like "... and adhering to a smaller budget."

To address why the other proposed reading would still be wrong with this sentence the way it is:

If "to" is meant as a "function word indicating progress toward a goal," as in "We must find ways [toward] a smaller budget," then there are problems with parallelism. First, if the sentence were simplified to "We must find ways to meet demands with fewer resources and to a smaller budget," then it might squeak by, but it's a bit confusing to use "to" in different ways so close together. But we must explain the phrase that's been left out here, "respecting ecological criteria." If we want the word "ways" to pair with both of the "to" phrases, then this middle phrase must be set off with two commas: "We must find ways to meet demands with fewer resources, respecting ecological criteria, and to a smaller budget."

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