The Associated Press (AP) has printed the following story, where the boldfaced "to" is used:

PARIS (AP) — A man seemingly disguised as an old woman in a wheelchair threw a piece of cake at the glass protecting the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum and shouted at people to think of planet Earth...

The man, whose identity was unknown, was also seen throwing roses in the museum gallery to slack-jawed guests.


However, on the Twitter page of an eyewitness to the incident, the preposition "at" is used in the caption:

A picture of him captured throwing roses at me.


I thought the distinction between "throw something to someone" and "throw something at someone" is clear cut, but why do the above sources not agree with each other? Is either of them in the wrong?

  • 2
    Perhaps they were written by different people who had different experiences. Jun 13 at 2:30
  • Which preposition would be more reasonable, given the overall context?
    – Apollyon
    Jun 13 at 2:47
  • 1
    Throwing gifts to friends is generous. At them, no thank you. A reporter might describe throwing roses to visitors while I think he threw them at me, not to me as to a stage actor. Jun 13 at 4:14
  • @YosefBaskin Why did you say "A reporter might describe throwing roses to visitors "? Were you saying it's a journalist usage?
    – Apollyon
    Jun 13 at 9:54
  • 1
    Throwing to is likely neutral, and throwing at is likely negative. Using one over the other amounts to opinion. Reporters have their opinion, but it's not journalistic. Were I the Mona Lisa with cake thrown at me or the Madonna with dung thrown at me, I'd never say that sh&t was thrown to me like the bouquet for cheering bridesmaids. Jun 13 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


"To" can be used by an observer who views the thrower sympathetically, and "at" by someone less supportive.

  • Does the article suggest the author is sympathetic to the thrower's stance in any other way?
    – Apollyon
    Jun 13 at 5:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.