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The removal of Alok Verma as Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation is a disconcerting denouement to an unseemly episode.

Why has "to" been used here after "denouement"?

closed as off-topic by BillJ, AmE speaker, lbf, Chenmunka, jimm101 Jan 15 at 12:49

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  • Because to is very often used after denouement. – AmE speaker Jan 12 at 14:06
  • Welcome to EL&U! Please include the research you’ve done, or consider if your question suits our [English Language Learners](ell.stackexchange.com) site better. Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. Please also provide sources for your quotes in the future to aid research. – A Lambent Eye Jan 12 at 14:30
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    @ALambentEye: I've retracted my earlier closevote. As a native speaker, I "know" that to works better than of in this exact context, despite the latter being overwhelmingly more common in other contexts. But I didn't have an explicit explanation for why this should be so, and I don't think you'd easily find one in " commonly-available references". Gustavson's answer looks good to me. – FumbleFingers Jan 12 at 14:53
  • @FumbleFingers Thank you for your comment. As a non-native teacher I find it very challenging and useful to try and "create" rules where there seem to be none mainly in "commonly available references". This case of "to" seems to be one of those cases. – Gustavson Jan 12 at 15:14
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    @Gustavson: That's why people like you are so valuable on English Language Learners (where you obviously do your bit! :) It's all very well someone like me posting an answer on ELL consisting mostly of This is what native speakers actually say, but often I'm not consciously aware of the relevant "rule" (often, "rule of thumb", or just "tendency"). It's often the "outside observer" who sees more "structure, principles" than those of us who've simply grown up learning what people say, without having much idea of why. – FumbleFingers Jan 12 at 16:32
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"to" is idiomatic there (and preferred over the preposition "of") mainly because of the indefinite article "a". We can say both "the denouement of" and "the denouement to", but "a denouement of" sounds wrong.

Examples:

  • The plot takes us to Paris for the denouement of the story. (https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/denouement)
  • In 2006, in the denouement to an earlier Samsung scandal, that office voluntarily gave away $800 million to the government to be distributed in scholarships to deserving South Koreans. (Washington Post, 23-04-2008)
  • It was a tragic denouement to a distinguished military career. Times, Sunday Times (2016)

Something similar happens with other nouns like advantage, drawback, witness, prey, home, key, heir, changes, introduction, ambassador. In some cases, the preposition "to" conveys the meaning of direction or destination (as opposed to "of" which expresses possession) and that is at least one of the reasons for its use, but the rule I explained above about the type of article (with the indefinite and the zero article leading to the use of "to") usually applies.

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    Agreed. In this context, I think to is essentially a "spatial metaphor" preposition (where "spatial" easily translates to difference in time rather than space, and hence to "consecutive, consequential"). On the other hand, the denouement of the story is often more of a "container metaphor" (it's part of the story, rather than the result, outcome, upshot). – FumbleFingers Jan 12 at 16:48

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