Prepositions: door to or door of?



Do you always lock the door to your apartment when you leave?

Please can you explain the use of to instead of of in the above sentence?

Posted 28 June 2002

Both door to and door of are used frequently.

Door to emphasizes the perspective that the door is the entranceway to a place. According to The American Heritage Dictionary*, it is "a means of approach or access: looking for the door to success."

Examples from the Collins COBUILD** online include:

Jobcentres open the door to job vacancies for anyone.

.thereby opening the door to a dialogue with the U.S.

.I slowly pushed open the door to the morgue.

.by a nod of the head then opened the door to the Rolls .

.The door to the locked room was open..

Door of emphasizes the idea that the door is part of the entire room, not that it leads to any specific place.

Examples from the Collins COBUILD online include:

On Christmas Eve the door of my cell opened and the.

.when meeting a person, the front door of a house emits instant.

.packed into an old car at the back door of Number Ten Downing Street.

.himself up, reached the massive door of the barn and pushed. It.

She closed the door of her locker, then hit it.

It's possible that door to and door of can be used almost interchangeably; for example, you might say either

The door to the kitchen is painted blue.
The door of the kitchen is painted blue.

You would choose to if you are focusing on where the door leads, but of if you are focusing on the appearance of the entire kitchen, including the door.

This difference in emphasis can be seen in these two sentences from the Collins COBUILD:


. jumped up and rushed over when the door to the inner office opened.


Derek fled through the front door of the office.

In sentence (a), the perspective is that of going into the office, from another place, so door to is used. In sentence (b), Derek is going the other way, out of the office, and the door is perceived as part of that office, so door of is used.


*The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

** The Collins Wordbanks Online.

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