I am confused by the different explanations in the following two dictionaries.

Macmillan says “provide A to B”, while The Free Dictionary says it is wrong and tells us not to say “provide A to B”, insisting that we not use any prepositions except FOR. That is why I am much confused.

Which of the two is GRAMMATICALLY correct in the States and Britain regardless of whether it is used or not in daily life? And could you suggest any authentic sources about this?

  • We provide legal advice and services to our clients. (Macmillan)

  • The animals provide food for their young. (TFD)
    Be Careful!
    Don't use any preposition except for in sentences like these.
    Don't say, for example 'The animals provide food to their young'.

  • 2
    Scroll down the Macmillan Dictionary site to phrasal verbs and select "provide for". That describes the usage that is operative in your animals example.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 28 '19 at 10:07
  • Typically, instead of saying "provide A to B", I would say "provide B with A". This makes the receiver the direct object and the thing being given the indirect object.
    – Tim Foster
    Mar 28 '19 at 10:32

One can provide [basically] any X to Y.

However, "provide food for their young" means specifically: care for them by giving them food.

We even have an idiom based on that:

This provides food for thought.

  • Parents provide for their children.

To provide for=to sustain or support physically or financially or in some other way that does not just mean to give or supply.

whereas: provide x to y just means: supply or give x to y.

There is also the idea of make provision for [arrange for]:

  • The will provided for their upkeep.

The will had a provision that set out a sum of money to do towards upkeep,of, say, properties.

provide for=care for in some way provide [x] to=give or supply with no idea of "caring for" or "taking care of" as in being physically or financially responsible for.

  • That man always provided for his family. [financially supported]
  • That man always provided funds to his community organization. [gave funds or made funds available to]
  • Thank you for your kind answer. However, what do you think of the following explanation from Longman Dictionary? I can't find any information about the preposition 'to'. in Longman Dictionary. ldoceonline.com/dictionary/provide GRAMMAR: Patterns with provide • You provide something for someone: We provide information for parents. • You provide someone with something: We provide parents with information. ✗Don’t say: We provide parents information.
    – Suwon Kim
    Mar 29 '19 at 10:09
  • @SuwonKim I agree with those entries. And they do not mean what I said is incorrect.
    – Lambie
    Mar 29 '19 at 13:00
  • We provide information for parents. -The problem is that this sentence does not include any responsibility. I can't discriminate when to use 'to' and when to use 'for", because your explanation does not apply to the above sentence. I mean according to your explanation, 'We provide information to parents' should be correct, shouldn't it?
    – Suwon Kim
    Mar 30 '19 at 14:50

Provide certainly has a meaning of "hand over" or "give to," so I can't see how it can be ungrammatical to use a "to" preposition in phrases using "provide."

You can also "provide an answer to a question." You certainly can "provide a shoulder to cry on." In either case, using "for" instead of "to" wouldn't make sense. You can say "provide a shoulder for her to cry on," however.

In other words, these are questions of coherent and natural-sounding phrasing, rather than strictly grammar, I believe.

"Provide for the common good" is an example of "provide" without an A and a B, by the way.

You can "provide for" something, or "provision" something, or "provide" something to someone.

  • Would you please check on the comments in the above if you don't mind?
    – Suwon Kim
    Mar 30 '19 at 14:50
  • I agree with comment and answers that say you can "provide something to someone."
    – user8356
    Apr 1 '19 at 12:45

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