Usage of "admit"

I have some question about the verb “admit”:
1/ What’s the difference between:

  • “admit something” and “admit to something”?
  • “admit doing something” and “admit to doing something”?

2/ I found this pattern in the OALD:
◆ [VN to inf] The appointment is now generally admitted to have been a mistake.
Help Note: This pattern is only used in the passive.

=> Here are some examples of myself. Please check them for me:

  • At last, the project was admitted by him to be a big success.
  • She is admitted to have helped them very much.

=> I don’t know if these sentences sound natural. Besides, could you please give me some more examples of this pattern?

Many thanks

In “admit” something, the something is usually a verb.

Frankie admitted stealing the cupcakes.
Gwendolyn admitted breaking the dish.

In “admit to” something, the something is a noun phrase, but sometimes the noun is a gerund.

Frankie admitted to stealing the cupcakes.
Frankie admitted to the theft of the cupcakes.
Marina admitted to liking ABBA, but everyone else in the room denied it.
Marina admitted to a love of ABBA, but everyone else in the room denied it.

Note that admit + direct object + to can also mean to allow someone to enter something.

We can only admit four more people to the concert.
They admitted us to the event, but they didn’t admit our other two friends.

Maybe someone else will have more tips.

What’s the difference in meaning between these?

I admit being wrong.
I admit to being wrong.

There isn’t any.

Hm. I wonder why the BNC gives only 4 in 1 million words for “admit being” and yet 48 per 1 mill for “admit to being”. Hm.

Some variants are preferred to others. Who can say.

And what’s your preference? What would you rather say ?

Like most of the herd, I’d prefer to say “admit to being, doing, etc.”, but I have surely used the other form quite a few times in my life.

As a footnote:

I think it’s more usual for the subject in this structure to be either impersonal or inanimate; also, the agent is usually omitted. Thus:

  1. The project was admitted to have been a big success.
  2. It is admitted that she helped them very much.

(Though I would imagine that the tolerance of native speakers for such examples varies.)

Best wishes,


Hi MrP,
Thanks a lot for your clear explanation :), but what about the difference between “admit to something” and “admit something”, “admit doing something” and “admit to doing something”? Do you have the same idea as Jamie (Please excuse me. I just want to know a British’s idea)

Thank you very much.

Hello Nessie,

I think it’s slightly different in BrE. Thus:

  1. He wouldn’t admit to stealing the tenor saxophone.
  2. He admitted stealing the piccolo.
  3. He admitted that he had stolen the gong.
  4. He admitted the theft of the xylophone.

But I wouldn’t be entirely comfortable with:

  1. He admitted to the theft of the glockenspiel.

All the best,


Everything is the same for North Americans, except that I don’t think most of us would have a problem with #5.

[color=violet]But… all these are just examples, I still can’t see any “slight difference in BrE” you mentioned :shock:

Sorry! I meant the first 4, which reflect Jamie’s earlier examples, are fine in BrE too; but I’m not sure about #5.

The structures are:

  1. admit to [gerund]
  2. admit [gerund/participle]
  3. admit that he has/had done X
  4. admit the [noun]
  5. admit to the [noun]