While reading the entry of cordon off something, I came across Cambridge Dictionary's page.

It reads

cordon off something: to close an area to people and vehicles

I wonder the preposition; 'for' is what I'd expect there.


He's the boss! For him, the gate is open. For you, it's closed
For police, the restaurant is open, for general public, it's closed
Admission is closed for the general quota. Student belonging to the backward class may now proceed.

And thus...

to close an area to for people and vehicles


The border is closed for Syrians.

Further confusion.

[something] open to all - seems very common


"[something] closed for all" seems better over "...to all"

  • Which meaning of "for" are you proposing in this usage? Please cite a source. Sep 14 '15 at 10:19
  • I cannot tell what you mean with your "general quota" and "backward class" example. What is a "general quota"? What is a "backward class"? Sep 14 '15 at 11:03
  • Oh, there's no reserved categories elsewhere.
    – Maulik V
    Sep 14 '15 at 11:05
  • 3
    If someone closes the door for you, they have extended you a courtesy. If someone has closed the door to you, they have denied you admission. Sep 14 '15 at 11:48

Short answer:

Use to close an area to { the public / people and vehicles }.
It's correct, grammatical, and idiomatic.

Prepositions are sooo hard.

Here is my first maxim of language learning:

The seemingly easiest things are the most difficult ones.

One reason that makes prepositions so hard to master is because each of them seems to have its unique meaning, but in reality, every one of them seems to overlap other prepositions all the time, and such overlaps can be found everywhere.

To deal with prepositions, in my humble opinion, is much more difficult than dealing with articles. I'm not going to elaborate how we should deal with them, but I'll give you the best tip I learned from my own experience, which is: Just accept them as they are.

Let's consider your problem at hand:
Should we use to close an area to or for (the public)?

The basic uses1 of to and from are:

To -- destination; direct recipient
For -- recipient of the benefit; reason; cause; relating to/concerning

Which is why in one of your examples, for works better:

For him, the gate is open. For you, it's closed.
(= As far as he is concerned, it's open; but in your case, it's closed.)

But in the question you wrote in the title of this post, to works better:

We've closed this area to the public.
(= The area is now closed, and the recipient of our action is the public. In other words, the public is directly affected by our action.)

1The basic uses or senses of to and from as given here are only meant as general guidelines. The usage of the two prepositions, or any preposition for that matter, is much more complex. Otherwise, prepositions would be easy. So, be flexible while learning prepositions.

To elaborate a little more, both the patterns "close something to something" and "close something for something" are possible, but they are used differently:


3 [transitive] to stop people or vehicles from entering or leaving a place, using a road, etc.
  They have closed their border with Albania.
  close something to something: There is a proposal to close the park to traffic.
  close something for something: The bridge will have to be closed for repairs.

The examples could be helpful if you take a closer look at them. In (close) to traffic, traffic is the target recipient of the action. In (closed) for repairs, for is used to state the purpose of the action.

  • I recently edited: The border is closed for Syrians (direct recipients).
    – Maulik V
    Sep 14 '15 at 12:05
  • @MaulikV Another tip besides "Just accept them as they are" is, make sure that your learning source is correct. It is my believe that in that sentence The border is closed to Syrians works better, but I wouldn't like to say that your source is wrong. Sep 14 '15 at 12:10
  • Okay...however, it wasn't about the 'source'. It was my gut feeling
    – Maulik V
    Sep 14 '15 at 12:18
  • 1
    If my words mean anything, don't trust your gut feeling (in language learning). Sep 14 '15 at 12:22
  • 1
    Even native speakers of English are fooled by their gut feelings all the time. The fact that gut feelings are wrong so often is a big part of the tests that students in the US take before they apply to universities. Sep 14 '15 at 13:24

Your example statements were missing articles. It should be "closed to the public". Just as we say, "open to the public" as in, "The gates of town hall have been thrown open to the public today", so we say "closed to the public".

"Closed to the public" is the correct usage. Check here.

  • What would you use in the context of some school? Admission for/to grade 2 students is open?
    – Maulik V
    Sep 14 '15 at 11:12
  • In that context, it would be "for". It's quite context-dependent. Again, look at admission to the exhibition is free" and "admission for engineering classes have closed". It varies.
    – Mamta D
    Sep 14 '15 at 11:14
  • I'm talking about animated objects. 'Entry to the exhibition is free but then 'Entry for Indians* is restricted.
    – Maulik V
    Sep 14 '15 at 11:17
  • @MaulikV Your last comment complicates things. The following are correct: "Entry for Indians is restricted." (Indians may not enter) "Entry is restricted to Indians." (only Indians may enter) "Entry for Indians is closed." (Indians may not enter) "Entry is closed to Indians." (Indians may not enter) I'm not sure if there's a pattern, and clearly there is a difference between "closed" and "restricted" in this context when it comes to the use of "for" and "to". Sep 14 '15 at 13:30

Both sound correct but where and how you use them could change.

If you close the area to the people then it simply means it's just closed to them.

If the area is closed for the people it could mean the same thing, but it could also mean it's closed for the benefit of the people.

It's closed for your safety.

It's closed for your convenience.

It could be closed for any reason.

So normally but not always I wouldn't use for unless there is a reason for it being closed.

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