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I have read this sentence in an English course textbook:

I have just been to the bank.

What we know about the person who says that sentence is:

  • He went to the bank in the morning.
  • He was there, doing some paperwork.
  • In the present time, he is at home.

I don't really know if been to is equivalent to:

  1. I have just been in the bank.
  2. I have just gone to the bank.
  3. I just went to the bank.
1

Looking at the last few lines, I see that you are a bit confused about 'went' and 'been'. Well, as far as 'visiting' or 'going' to places is concerned, 'went' talks mainly about a one time event whereas 'been' talks about going and coming back.

I've just been to the bank -I went and came back from the bank.

On the other hand, if you say...

I just went to the bank- talks about your presence in the bank (probably a one time event). For instance, you tell your mom at home that if your friend comes asking you, she may reply that you 'just went' to the bank.

In the same scene, when your friend is waiting for you and you arrive at your home, you can tell him that you have just been to the bank. So, 'Just been here is -went, finished the work, came back'.

Remember the nursery rhyme? Pussy cat pussy cat where have you been? So, here, the cat had gone and came back! :)

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The preposition (prep) to is normally used to indicate destination answering the question where to. But there is a small niche where "to" is used as a prep indicating position answering the question where. This is contrary to logic, but the uses of prepositions are not systematic.

Some examples where "to" is used for where:

1 Have you been to London? (instead of: in London)

This is clearly an exception that must be learnt. "have been" + place is always expressed with "have been to + place". It is difficult to explain why this very old use of "to" als prep of place is still used today after "have been".

2 a visit to London

3 To your right/left you see St. Paul's.

Just three examples with old use of "to" as preposition of place. I'm sure one can find some more examples. But I think these three examples are enough to make sensitive for this old use of "to".

This special niche of to is almost never covered in grammars and even big dictionaries such as Longman's DCE that lists 22 uses of the prep to doesn't give the use of "to" as prep of place.

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