The chambers inside the pyramid were closed (to/for) visitors (to clean and repair/for cleaning and repairing).

Which is the correct alternative in both the brackets, and why? Please explain in detail the correct usage and grammar.

The essence required is:

The chambers were closed so that no more visitors would come inside them and because the chambers needed maintenance.

  • What's your question? – ElendilTheTall Jul 4 '14 at 9:43
  • Which is the correct alternative in both the brackets, and why? – tushain Jul 4 '14 at 9:45
  • If the chambers are closed to visitors for cleaning and repairing (or, more idiomatically, for maintenance and repair), the meaning is what you are after here. If they are closed for visitors to clean and repair, they are closed so that visitors may come and clean/repair them, which doesn't really make much sense from a tourism point of view. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 4 '14 at 20:09

The sentence includes two prepositional (or phrasal) verbs that have specific meaning.

Close to means to block access by a category of people or things that follow the preposition.

Close for means block access to accomplish a particular purpose.

Your sentence contains both, even though the word close is not repeated.

The chambers inside the pyramid were closed to visitors for cleaning and repair.

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The correct sentence is:

The chambers inside the pyramid were closed to visitors for cleaning and repair.

Although maintenance would probably be better than repair.

Here to is used to indicate the parties affected by the closure of the chambers. For is used in the sense of for the purpose of.

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  • but the purpose, if explicitly there, is written in the form of "to verb" or infinitive of purpose. – tushain Jul 4 '14 at 9:58
  • Sorry, I don't understand what you're trying to say there – ElendilTheTall Jul 4 '14 at 10:00
  • The goal of any action is preferred to be written in the infinitive form of verb. I guess. – tushain Jul 4 '14 at 10:02
  • Well, as a native speaker I've never learned about infinitives and so on. But I can guarantee the sentence above is correct. No doubt someone more scholarly will come along and give you the technicalities. – ElendilTheTall Jul 4 '14 at 10:11
  • Yeah but i needed logical reasons for why one is correct and why one is not. Anyways thanks for your input. – tushain Jul 4 '14 at 10:14

In various cases where you evoke the mental notion of a "channel" or "connection" that potentially makes something available, then the choice of preposition is "to":

It is [open/closed/available/perceptible] to visitors/humans.

In such cases (including yours), "for" is often possible, but it instead evokes the notion of "from the point of view of" or "for the benefit of". So both alternatives are grammatical, but evoke subtly different ideas. In this specific case, the likely idea that needs to be expressed is that of "simple availability", and probably for that reason, speakers would tend to opt for "to" in this case.

The choice of the second phrase probably comes down to a couple of factors:

  • the use of the infinitive often suggests that the implied subject of the infinitive is the same as a previously expressed subject, whereas in this case, it would not be the public that was doing the cleaning (this isn't a hard and fast rule: it's perfectly possible to have the implied subject of an infinitive be different to one previously expressed, but this tends to happen where there is a very clear or "default" subject intended);
  • the use of 'to' with the infinitive strongly suggests the initiation of an action; there is therefore a conflict if on the one hand you are expressing the non-availability but at the same time evoking the initiation of an activity involving the thing that is not available;
  • there's nothing overt to make the word "cleaning and repair[ing]" sound overtly 'verb-like' rather than 'noun-like': no subject/object, no adverb.

Contrast your sentence with the following, where if you apply the factors above, the balance swings in favour of a verb:

"The library is open to the public to use at their leisure"

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  • Great explanation! :) The question is solved, i suppose. – tushain Jul 4 '14 at 14:39

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