Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Tue Jun 25 16:36:51 UTC 2002

Too easy (until someone else answers); The 'in' is the 'in' of
location and the 'to' is the 'to' of experience (not the 'to' of
direction, as in "I'm driving to Alaska tomorrow"). (Let's not mess
with dialects which have another "to" - 'I was to John's house


"She must have been in Africa (located there) when the bomb went off."
but *"She must have been to Africa when the bomb went off."

"He's been in Alaska twice (located there each time) when they've had
an earthquake."
but *"He's been to Alaska twice when they've had an earthquake."

"She's been in England for a long time (located there) but just escaped"
but *She's been to England for a long time but just escaped."

There are forced experiential readings of the *-ed sentences (and
that reading of the second is really not so forced), but I think
these contrasts show the distinctions you are after (and help you
resolve the other serious metaphysical problems you were apparently


>Hello. Could you please explain to me the three
>utterances below from a notional and pragmatic
>"She must have been in Africa." [as opposed to "
>"He's been in Alaska twice." [as opposed to "
>"She's been in England for a long time."
>What exactly is the speaker's location in each of
>them? Could he/she possibly be in more places than
>one? Where are the three visitors 'now'?
>More constructions of that type, which would further
>help me clarify the role and meaning of "in" versus
>"to," will be much appreciated.
>P. Lombardo
>Do You Yahoo!?
>Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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