Patrice Larroque Paul Valery University, Montpellier “The prepositions at and to: opposite points of view.”
The purpose of the present article is to describe the syntactic and semantic functions of the prepositions at and to. Starting from the false argument that at is associated with hostility, this paper tries to show that at and to are opposites of the same notion (i.e. have a common origin) and therefore their meanings depend on the position from which the action or state is viewed. At refers to the receiving end while to indicates orientation towards a goal seen from the origin of the act.
The hostility conveyed by at ultimately depends on the semantic realization of its complementation which implies reception and is related to stability (nouns or –ING forms). To, on the other hand, remains ambiguous and unstable as regards the aim to be achieved. As such to is apt to acquire a metalinguistic value and introduce a verb base.