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He found work in London as a secretary to a retired diplomat. (Sec 2, unit 2 listening) Can we use “for” instead of “to”? What is the difference?
Sender Maged Naeem
Position Head teacher

Secretary has several meanings. In the meaning that is used in the book — an employee responsible for correspondence, record keeping, etc. — to is the usual preposition when the secretary assists one particular person. This would be the case for an executive secretary in a large office. In a smaller organization where the secretary serves a department or perhaps the whole company, I might say that someone is a secretary for or of the department or at the company.

In other meanings, we talk about the secretary of a club or organization, the secretary of state; in some government positions secretary for is used to show the area of responsibility: assistant defense secretary for health affairs.

Since these other meanings of secretary are not introduced in the textbook, I would teach your students to use secretary to (a person) and leave it at that. Students in O level are not expected to know every meaning of a word.
ed. 20/12/15


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