Point someone to something

Is it correct to write something along the lines of “She pointed me to a book of X.” in the sense of “making me aware of it”, “bringing it to my attention”?


Not only is the form you ask about reasonably common today, but use of it goes back more than 200 years. From a letter to Mr. Urban dated September 12, in The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle (September 1808):

Now, to arrest the attention of my friends, and dispose the friends of others who may think with me, with your leave, I will point them to what I am contemplating, if I may use such a word in the present instance, allowing that I am inclined, with all becoming deportment, if possible, again to marry.

To be more plain, I would miss having, or l would have no slothful Miss, no indigent Miss, no careless Miss, no dissipated Miss, no imprudent Miss, no ugly Miss, no idle Miss, no deformed Miss, no ignorant Miss.

Should these epithets occur, and my friends point me to a widow, they will kindly recollect my discrimination, though they laugh at me.

From “An Interesting Anecdote,” in Episcopal Magazine (June 1820):

He [an eleven-year-old orphan from London] answered, ‘When I was a little boy, about seven years of age, I became a Sunday scholar in London ; through the kind attention of my master, I soon learnt to read my Bible : this Bible, young as I was, shewed me that I was a sinner, and a great one too ; it also pointed me to a Saviour ; and I thank God that I have found mercy at the hands of Christ, and am not ashamed to confess him before the world.”

From a debate on July 9, 1832, recorded in U.S. Congress, Register of Debates in Congress (1832):

He [Mr. Stanberry] said that Mr. Macon had always presided with great dignity, and had always asserted the rights of order. He had never flattered or cringed to those in power, when he held the chair of that House. Hr had never shaped his course to suit the Executive will, with a view to getting an appointment to a high office abroad. Mr. S[tanberry] insisted that allusions to the opinions of the President were out of Order. I defy any gentleman, said he, to point me to a single decision to the contrary, until you presided over this body. And let me say that I have heard the remark frequently made, that the eyes of the Speaker are too frequently turned from the chair you occupy toward the White House.

All of these examples (and many later ones turned up in Google Books searches for the phrases “point me to a” and “pointed me to a” for the period 1800–2008) use the “point [someone] to [something]” structure in essentially the same way that the example in your question does—to mean “make [someone] aware of [something]” or “direct [someone’s] attention to [something].”

Update (February 4, 2020): Some much earlier examples of the phrasing

A search of the Early English Books Online database yields matches that go back to the sixteenth century. Here are a few examples from the 1500s and 1600s.

From Thomas Norton, An Addition Declaratorie to the Bulles, with a Searching of the Maze Scene and Allowed (1570):

Such are not like to felonies, treason and offēders that they know, but they are like vnto those that when a felon or traitor is pursued, do helpe to hide hym, and conuey him into bie corners, and for the felons or traytors easier escape doe tell them that pursue hym that he is gone a contrarie way or geue them contrarie markes to kéepe them from knowing and attachyng him, or point them to a wrong persone while the very théefe or traitor may make shift for him selfe, yea and lend him some of their own clothes to disguise hym.

From Henry Smith, “A Looking Glasse for Christians,” reprinted in The sermons of Maister Henrie Smith gathered into one volume (1593):

Touching the first point, the forbidden tree seemed to Eue a tree to bee desired, because it would teach them knowledge. Nature taught her that knowledge was a thing to be desired: Though the Serpent pointed her to a wrōg tree. For in deed the tree of life was the tree of knowledge. and when they went to the other tree, they chaunged their knowledge for ignorance, as they chaunged their holines for wickednes.

From Thomas Heywood, The Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells Their Names, Orders and Offices the Fall of Lucifer with His Angells (1635):

Now hauing sufficiently discoursed of Death, I will point you to a contented life, out of one of Martials Epigrams, not without great elegancie thus deliuered vnto vs: …

From John Hall, Emblems with Elegant Figures (ca. 1648):

Oh for a Moses that would make / This rock of mine dissolve and break / To a clear stream where I might lie / Exempt from all this misery, / And bathe. Oh would some Angel sit / And point me to a welcom pit.

And from Richard Carpenter, The Pragmatical Jesuit (ca. 1665):

Lucifer. I swell into the Mountain Olympus. O, how I swell! I shall burst asunder: And there’s a dreadfull tempest in my stomack. How, and where shall I empty my self? I know not where to bestow my troubled stomack, and my seditious belly. O good Females help me. O some kind body, point me to a secret place. O.

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