Encountered the following in a text I'm proofreading.

...tries to salvage the dignity due the situation

My instinct is to correct this to

...tries to salvage the dignity due to the situation

but the writer is American while I am (mostly) British, and it is possible this may be correct in American English. Googling unfortunately brings up many examples of "due to" meaning "because", which is not what I'm after.

To take another example:

finally got the recognition she was due


finally got the recognition due to her / finally got the recognition due her

The second, "due her" sounds weird to me, but is, according to the Cambridge definition above, correct.

EDIT in response to comments saying that "due to" only means "because": https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/due (scroll down to the adjective definition)

owed as a debt or as a right:

The rent is due (= should be paid) at the end of the month.
£50 is due to me (US due me) from the people I worked for last month.
Our thanks are due to everyone.

Some more examples of "due to", to put those arguments to rest:

  • Arguably the handling of those bones as tools of research is also incompatible with the respect due to humanity British Diplomacy in Northern India
  • In the morning we had talked of old families, and the respect due to them. The Life of Samuel Johnson vol.II
  • It stood on its neck/with a smile well-bred/And bowed three times to me!/It was none of your impudent/off-hand nods/But as humble as could be/For it clearly knew/The deference due/To a man of pedigree The Mikado
  • My thanks are due to former colleagues...
  • *'And you have accepted what was not due to you.' D'Artagnan's eyes flashed. * The Vicomte de Bragelonne
  • The first line gives the 'agreed fee', which is the total amount due to you, not including any VAT. How to Be an Illustrator

What I want to know is - in such cases, in American English, may we use "due" without the "to"?

  • 5
    I don't think changing "due" to "due to" preserves the meaning you want. Generally, "due to" means "because of" or "resulting from".
    – user888379
    Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 15:54
  • 2
    the original phrasing refers to the dignity which the situation merits / justifies / deserves. Your rewrite seems to refer to an attempt to salvage [some] dignity because of the situation, but it doesn't really make sense to me. Note that the preposition to in She finally got the recognition due to her is "stylistically optional" - it's syntactically fine with or without, and the meaning is unchanged. Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 16:15
  • Yes, "due" stands for that is due in or owed in. @FumbleFingers has good choices, too. Any mail due today is expected in today's mail. The dignity we'd expect in this situation is what we're trying to salvage. Still, if nothing's wrong with a sentence other than the head I'm scratching, yes, I reword. Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 17:11
  • 2
    Due to circumstances beyond our control, "due to" should only be used in cases where blame is being assigned.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 20:11
  • 2
    @Notiophilus for something like "the respect due to me", if I had to use "due", I'd write "the respect that I am due".
    – muru
    Commented Jun 24, 2022 at 2:57

4 Answers 4


As a native speaker of AmE, I find that the recognition due her sounds fairly standard to me (leaving aside the spoken similarity with do her).

The alternative ...due to her does seem clearer, and it's one of those situations where the longer I think about it, the more I prefer the clearer alternative. But when I plug the longer form back into the original sentence:

...tries to salvage the dignity due to the situation.

now I hate it. Your interpretation (the dignity is owed to the situation) is probably grammatically sound, but the whole phrase has become ambiguous. It just sounds too close to the alternative meaning, "because of the situation." Even if that usage is largely deprecated in academic writing, it's such common usage in the US that my brain can't help but parse the sentence that way.

In your shoes but as an AmE proofreader I'd write something like the following: "Probably standard in AmE; understandable that you want to avoid "due to the situation"; even so, consider clearer alternatives, e.g. 'tries to salvage the dignity merited by the situation.'"

  • 2
    Or even, "tries to salvage the dignity [that] the situation merited."
    – blahdiblah
    Commented Jun 24, 2022 at 17:38

I am also British, but to me the original phrase sounds correct and has a different meaning to what you are trying to correct it to.

"...tries to salvage the dignity due the situation" implies that the situation owed/dued/deserving of dignity.

However, the phrase "...tries to salvage the dignity due to the situation" is ambiguous because it could imply the above, or it could imply that the situation was somehow causing dignity in some context.

This can be seen more in the second context if we add another character.

"Peter finally got the recognition due to her" implies she has been working to make sure that Peter got the recognition her deserved.

Whereas "Peter finally got the recognition due her" doesn't really make sense. Or implies that Peter is in fact female.

Basically, I think both are fine, but I prefer the original phrase because it is less ambiguous.

  • 4
    I would interpret "Peter finally got the recognition due her" as being that Alice (or whoever her referred to) was due the recognition, but Peter got it. "Peter finally got the recognition due to her" could also mean that Peter got the recognition that Alice should have got, or it could mean "because of" her as you suggest (and OP mentioned)
    – Dragonel
    Commented Jun 24, 2022 at 16:00
  • One can rescue "Peter finally got the recognition due her" by italicizing "her," if there's helpful context. Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 20:26
  • @Dragonel - that's both very clever and correct.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 17:24

In American English, may we use "due" without the "to"?

Yes (I speak US English), but not in the sentence you're proofreading:

...tries to salvage the dignity due the situation

because that would mean that the situation was owed a certain amount of dignity, which would be pretty weird.


You are assuming that 'due' here follows a definition that is synonymous with 'owed'.

...tries to salvage the dignity owed (to) the situation...

Which is why the lack of 'to' seems a bit jarring to your ear.

However, another definition of 'due' is synonymous with 'fitting' or 'proper' or 'appropriate'.

...tries to salvage the dignity fitting the situation...

Which sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Perhaps this was the meaning your writer intends?

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