Can You Start a Sentence With “To”?

You can start sentences with the word “to” in formal and informal writing. There are several functions “to” performs when beginning sentences. They are determined by what comes after the “to.” E.g., “To me, it is all the same.” or “To begin with, I would like to thank you all.”

The word “to” is versatile, and you can use it in many ways.

One of the most common ways to use “to” to begin a sentence is when you are stating what is required in order to do something.

For this structure, either the verb “be” or another verb appears after the word “to.”

  • To be a doctor, you must study at medical school.
  • To think is difficult when you are tired.

However, by adding words after the “to,” you can change the meaning completely.

To me – Use it to say “in my opinion.”

  • To me, he is the best player in the league.

To begin with – Use it as a way of introducing the first point in a conversation/speech.

  • To begin with, I think we should look over the sales figures.

To clarify – Use it before you rephrase something or repeat it more simply.

  • To clarify, the meeting that was supposed to be on Wednesday has been moved to Thursday.

To be honest – Use it before giving an honest or potentially risque opinion.

  • To be honest, I don’t think he can do the job.

To which – Use it to ask “to which” person or entity something should be done.

  • To which address shall I send the invoice?

To date – Use it to mean “up to now.”

  • To date, we have not received his resume.

Please keep reading to learn more about using the word “to” to start sentences in formal and informal writing.

Can You Start a Sentence With “To” in Formal Writing?

You can start a sentence with the word “to” in formal writing and it is acceptable.

However, the meaning of the word “to” at the start of a sentence changes depending on what you put after it.

Firstly, you can use “to” with a verb to indicate what is required to do something.

  • To analyze the results correctly requires time and patience.

Furthermore, these other phrases containing the word “to” are also appropriate for formal writing:

  • To date, we have not received any response to our request for information.
  • To clarify, this government’s position on increasing taxes for energy companies remains the same.
  • To begin with, we performed the experiment under the strictest supervision.
  • To whom it may concern, I have attached the completed application to this email.

Sometimes “to” is formal, and other times it is informal. You can use a synonym if you want to vary from using “to” when starting a sentence.

  • In my opinion – To me
  • In other words – To clarify
  • In my honest opinion – To be honest
  • Firstly – To begin with

Especially you shouldn’t use “to me” or “to be honest” in formal writing. Here, you’ll be much better off using the synonyms “in my opinion” and “in my honest opinion.”

Can You Start a Sentence With “To” in Informal Writing?

You can start a sentence with “to” in informal writing, which is common in business correspondence and personal messaging.

In informal writing, you can use “to” with infinitive verbs to indicate what is required to do something.

  • To work in banking, you need to be thick-skinned.
  • To be a vet, you need to have a love for animals.

The above examples differ from the gerund at the start of sentences because they describe a characteristic needed to “be” something or “do” something.

In contrast, when you start with the gerund, you describe a characteristic of “being” or “doing” something.

  • Working in banking is stressful.
  • Being a vet is a rewarding job.

These terms that start with “to” is commonly used in informal writing:

  • To me
  • To be honest
  • To be fair

Here are some examples of how to use them in a sentence:

  • To me, it was a great day.
  • To be honest, I can’t be bothered to go.
  • To be fair, they performed better than us, and they deserved to win.

You should reserve these terms for informal writing as they wouldn’t be appropriate to use in formal writing.