Should agreed or agreed to be used in the example below?

The member countries agreed the bailout package for the sovereign. NATO will enforce the sanctions agreed in May.

The member countries agreed to the bailout package for the sovereign. NATO will enforce the sanctions agreed to in May.

Is one more popular in some localities than others?

EDIT: While the answers posted thus far seem to make it cut and dried that the first usage is simply wrong, I am hearing it an awful lot on BBC television news. And I note that in the Telegraph (UK website) Sep 9, 2011, we have:

I haven't ever believed that a single euro cent of the €109 billion agreed in the Greece II bailout would ever change hands.

From Reuters on Sep 28, 2011:

If deemed adequate by the inspectors, the new austerity drive will secure an 8-billion-euro loan Greece needs to pay bills and salaries in October and bring it closer to starting a second bailout agreed in July.

This seems almost prevalent I am tempted to say it is a phenomenon.

  • To me, the former has the sense of the bailout package being changed and discussed and then being agreed on at the time of the meeting. The latter has more of a sense of the bailout package already being defined, and the meeting was just for agreeing. – Samthere Aug 26 '11 at 12:15
  • @David Schwartz: that should be THE answer – Joseph Hansen Aug 26 '11 at 13:19
  • @JosephHansen, I appreciated all of the answers and on the basis of vote counts, I have changed my selected answer. – H2ONaCl Sep 16 '18 at 18:59

In the second sentence, "The ... countries agreed to the ... package ..." is complete. There is a noun, the verb, and the predicate completely describes how the verb and noun relate. This sentence is correct.

In the first sentence, "The ... countries agreed the ... package ..." is incomplete. What did they agree or agree on? The package was good? The package was bad? They accepted the package? This sentence's predicate does not tell anything about the subject. This sentence is technically incorrect.

(If the sentence only said "The countries agreed," it would be complete and correct but it would not mean what the original sentence intended it to mean.)

"Agreed to that" is correct in this case.


The first seems ungrammatical to me. I speak US English, but I'm usually pretty familiar with UK English. At a minimum, it's a garden path sentence because it appears to be missing a predicate. For example, I'm fine with "The member countries agreed the bailout package for the sovereign was a good idea."

  • It seems obviously ungrammatical but it seems to be the norm and that's what is puzzling about this. – H2ONaCl Jun 19 '12 at 7:32

The OED has citations for transitive ‘agree’, in the sense ‘to arrange, concert, or settle (a thing in which various interests are concerned)’ from the sixteenth century onwards. In contemporary usage, there may be a transatlantic difference, with AmEng generally following ‘agree’ with ‘on, ‘to’ or ‘with’ and BrEng being comfortable with a direct object.

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