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The terms от/до and с/в(на) are used to convey the idea "from/to" in different settings. Are there guidelines about when one pair is used instead of another that would work well in practice? (Somewhat related: с/по is used for intervals of time, and if there is a reason for using по instead of до other than "that's the way it is", I'd be interested to hear that too.)

This question came up when I thought the translation of the old movie "From the Earth to the Moon" would be "От Земли до Луны" (isn't a trip from New York to Los Angeles от Нью-Йорка до Лос-Анджелеса?) but I found out that it is С Земли на Луну.

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Let me start with the first part of your question (about terms с/по).The fact is that actually we mostly use the preposition pair с/до when talking about daytime intervals, whereas with months and dates we use the pair с/по.

For example :

  • с утра дó ночи ( from morn to night );
  • с часу до двух (from 1 p.m till 2 pm);
  • с вечера до полудня (from evening till noon);

But:

  • с сентября по декабрь (from September till December);
  • с 15 по 21 марта (from the 15 to the 21 of March);

This explanation is general, for more precise rule and nuances you can check this link:

http://learnrussian.rt.com/grammar-tables/prepositions-to-denote-time-frames-s--po---s--do---ot--dor/

As for the second pair с/на - от/до, the usage depends on whether you mean distance or direction.

  • Расстояние от Земли до Луны примерно 384401 км. - The distance between the Earth and the Moon is approximately 384401 km.
  • Первый пилотируемый полет с Земли (куда?) на Луну состоялся в 1969 году. - The first piloted flight from the Earth to the Moon was in 1969.

There is,however, one more issue. There is an extra rule for usage of pairs с/на and из/в that are equivalent, but used with different categories of nouns.

towns, districts, republics, countries, states - we use the pair "в-из": в Петербург - из Петербурга, в Щелковский район - из Щелковского района, в Тульскую область - из Тульской области, в Данию - из Дании etc.

Exception : на Украину.

mountains, mountain areas,planets/stars/satellites,islands, peninsula - we use the pair "c/на": с Урала - на Урал, с Алтая - на Алтай,с Кавказа- на Кавказ,с Венеры - на Венеру, с Луны - на Луну, с Сахалина - на Сахалин, с Ямала - на Ямал.

The correct way to translate a trip from New York to Los Angeles is therefore "путешествие из Нью-Йорка в Лос-Анджелес".

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    So would a trip from St. Petersburg to the moon or the other way have mixed preposition pairs: из СПБ на Луну and с Луны в СПБ? – KCd Jan 6 '13 at 23:58
  • Yes it would =) However, there is no space station nearby, so it is hardly possible =) – petajamaja Jan 7 '13 at 0:01
  • I first noticed с/по on a sign in a museum (specifically, the World War II museum in Moscow) on which the museum's working hours were indicated. It was something like с 9:00 по 17:00. You write that time intervals use с/до. Is с/по generally allowed as an alternative for operating hours even though you write that time intervals are с/до? – KCd Jan 7 '13 at 0:02
  • Hm. "с-по" used with working hours sounds pretty unnatural to me, and besides it is not mentioned in the rules. However, I am not a linguist, just a native speaker. Maybe it is a possible variant for spoken Russian (how on Earth did this appear on the museum sign?), but I wouldn't personally use this, because it is officially grammatically incorrect. – petajamaja Jan 7 '13 at 0:14
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    I think "с/по" on a sign in a museum is error made by the designer/maker. Usually "с 10-го по 13-е число" means 4 days 10,11,12,13. But "с 10:00 до 13:00 часов" means only 3 hours. "с 10 по 13 часов" no one say that, it's wierd. I never seen working hours sign with "с/по". On site Moscow WWII museum working hours is "с/до" – Eugene Jan 7 '13 at 15:21

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