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In this context:

  1. A is the successor to B
  2. A is the successor of B

I'm fairly certain that the first one is correct. If so, then how come we say: Mother of God, instead of Mother to God?

However, maybe can it vary on specific choices of A and B?

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2  
Both are 'correct' as both are used. –  deutschZuid May 2 '12 at 23:53
    
I second what James said. Either is fine. –  Robusto May 3 '12 at 0:23
    
That being said, it seems that metonymic concepts such as the Throne or the Chair are idiomatically preceded by successor to, not successor of. Though I could be wrong. –  deutschZuid May 3 '12 at 1:34
    
Do A and B stand for a predecessor or something that's inherited? –  Alex B. May 3 '12 at 2:26
    
Cf. Mother of God, mother of three children etc. vs. "she's like a mother to him." –  Alex B. May 3 '12 at 2:28

1 Answer 1

I would recommend using successor to when talking about succeeding a person, and successor of when talking about succeeding a position

Dave is the successor to Joe.

Dave is the successor of the chef.

Though both are correct in all situations, I find that I use B's successor combined with an appositive far more often.

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pray why? (filler) –  Kris May 3 '12 at 9:35
    
I was saying as many phrases as possible to myself, and I found "successor of Joe" felt awkward. As far as I know, there's no real difference. –  Quasiperfect May 4 '12 at 5:10

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