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Master TO and FOR – English Prepositions

Master the English prepositions TO & FOR with me!

Hola! Welcome to my blog. In today’s blog, I’m going to be talking about the prepositions to and for. I know your pain, the struggle is real!

It’s so common to confuse these words.

Let’s get started with the preposition “TO”.

Think of movement, you’re going somewhere. We use to when we’re talking about destination or direction.

  • I take my car to drop the kids off at school.

So the destination is the school, so that’s why we use to.

  • Can you go to the store?

The store is the destination.

We also use to when we’re talking about distance or time, so let’s go over a couple examples.

  • It’s 10 kilometers to get to my sister’s house.
  • It’s 20 minutes to nine.
  • It’s quarter to ten.

We use to for also time. Also an example:

  • I study French Monday to Friday.

And we use it when it comes to preference.

  • I prefer reading to watching TV.
  • I prefer coffee to tea.

We can also use it when it comes to a limit or end point. For example,

  • I went in the water, but only up to my knees.
  • I’m willing to pay up to $200 to learn French quickly.

So we can also use to when it comes to a reason for your action.

  • I am doing my Youtube channel to help you learn English.

So the reason for my channel? To help.

And we are moving on now to the preposition FOR.

We use for when it comes to talking about benefits.

  • Exercising is good for your health.

So the benefit of exercise? It’s good for your health.

  • Or, learning a new language is good for your brain.

And we can also use for when it comes to duration or periods of time.

  • I have been learning the guitar for five years.
  • How long have you been studying English for?

And we also use for when it comes to talking about our schedule.

  • So I could say, I made a dentist appointment for December 4th.

We use for when we talk about helping someone, or doing something nice for someone.

  • I baked a cake for my neighbors.

Another scenario where we use for, is when we’re talking about function. So stay with me. For+the ing, the gerund form of the verb. For example,

  • The car is used for driving.
  • The computer is used for learning.

So you always use the -ing form when you’re talking about function, and you use it with for.

So here is where things can get a little bit tricky, because to and for can both be used, when talking about a reason or a motive.

So use to when the reason is a verb, and use for when the reason is a noun. Don’t let this confuse you, stay with me. Let’s look at some examples, and it’ll help you understand this better.

  • Why is he studying English? He’s studying English to apply for a job.

Apply is the verb, so that’s why we use to.

  • He’s studying English for work.

Work is a noun, so that’s why we use for in this case.

Let’s look at more examples, where we can use both to and for, but they will mean something different. So you apologize for something but to someone.

  • I apologize for getting upset with you last night.
  • I apologize to you because I shouldn’t have yelled at you.
  • I made a phone call to my husband.

So this is the destination, my husband, I called him.

  • I made a phone call for my husband.

In this case I’m helping him. I pick up the phone and I call somebody else, so he doesn’t have to.

We also travel to places, but we travel for a reason, a purpose.

  • I’m traveling to Brazil next month.
  • I’m traveling to Argentina for a business trip.

We also ask for something, but we belong to, like ownership.

  • I asked my boss for a day off.

We always use for with care, caring for someone.

  • I care for my children.

And we always use for with prepare.

  • I am preparing for my biology exam next month.

We always wait for someone, or something, but we wait to do something.

  • I’m waiting for my son to get home from school.
  • I’m waiting to get on the airplane.

Are you understanding to and for a little bit better? I hope so. Thanks for reading my blog! Tchau, ciao!

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Camille Hanson

Camille Hanson

Hi friends! I'm Camille. I create engaging American English content for ESL people around the world. When I am not creating videos, books or blogs, you will probably find me in a cafe somewhere around the world, studying my next target language or at home cooking up food for my family of five. Stick around, read some posts and learn some English with me :) Tchau, ciao! ~Camille

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