I came across the sentence "The bird went off in the direction from which it had come.". I wonder if why "in" was used instead of "to".

Is "in" commonly used instead of "to" like I go in the U.S instead of I go to the U.S.

  • 2
    In is virtually obligatory with direction: "Go in X direction" or "Go in the direction of X". To or toward is usual with a goal, but direction names a path, not a goal, even if it is defined as a path to a specific goal as "in the direction of [goal]". Mar 19, 2016 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


"to" defines a destination, and "in the direction" defines a route to that destination.

If the US is a place you want to go, you say

I would like go to to the US

If you were to sail away from the east coast of Japan, you would say

I am heading in the direction of the US


I am heading toward the US.

The more natural way of expressing the original sentence would be

The bird went back to where it came from

but some people don't like sentences with prepositions (eg from) at the end: to avoid this, they use complicated sentences to say simple things.

  • Thank you for your answer. Is "I am heading to the direction of the US" wrong? Mar 19, 2016 at 18:52
  • Yes, @YuuichiTam, it's wrong.
    – JavaLatte
    Mar 19, 2016 at 19:43

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