I'm in trouble with the following sentence:

"College provides equal opportunities to everyone." I would say this if I considered that "to everyone" is closely connected with "provides." However, if considering the direct object only, saying "equal opportunities for everyone" sounds better to me. Now, which one is correct?

  • Either one sounfs just as good to me. You make a good point about direct vs. indirect object, but that nuance would not be noticed by most hearers/readers. Jun 3, 2015 at 7:38
  • As you say, the two different prepositions lead to two different parses of the sentence, with different meanings. In this case, the difference in meaning is subtle, but it is there.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 3, 2015 at 8:06
  • In my view any difference between the construction with "for" and "to", as subtle as it may be, is a subjective interpretation that can't be verfied.
    – rogermue
    Jun 9, 2015 at 16:01

3 Answers 3


This question has been answered on this portal before.

In my opinion the best answer I found here as a quote:

One shade of difference is the assumption that someone providing x to has actually delivered x to the person, not merely made sure that it was made available:

If you provided umbrellas for your guests, that means that there is a supply of umbrellas available for their use.

If you provided umbrellas to your guests, I would be more likely to assume they each have an umbrella in their hand.

So in this case you should use "for" since it is unclear if everyone will make use of their opportunities.


The OALD has three verb constructions as to "to provide" (with two objects):

1 to provide sth for sb

2 to provide sth to sb

3 to provide sb with sth

I have not checked but it may be that 1 is the normal construction, and that 2 is an occasional variant. This impression arises as Pons has only 1, but not 2. Longman's DCE has only 1 and 3.


Considering the Latin word elements pro + videre (to see) I would prefer construction 1 to construction 2.

By the way, we have here an interesting case of semantic change. Latin videre means to see, how can it get the meaning of to give sb sth. This semantic change occurred already in Latin.

If Caesar foresees that his soldiers will run out of corn the normal consequence is that he looks for a possibility to get corn and and care for the necessary supply. So the verb took over the meaning connected with the consequence.

In German this transition in meaning is still very transparent. One can vorhersehen sth (to foresee), and one can versehen sb with sth (to provide).


Your problem's answer would most likely be "equal opportunities for everyone. The problem with "equal opportunities to everyone" is you are referring to one "anyone", making this statement invalid. However, equal opportunities for everyone both refers to more than one noun and sounds like it makes sense.

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