Prepositions can be tricky. They can be even trickier when you are learning English. One preposition can have several different functions, and translating in your native language can change the meaning of the sentence depending on the context; which is why translation is usually not possible. In today’s lesson, we will take a look at the prepositions To and For. These tiny words make up a big part of the sentence’s meaning and get confused a lot amongst each other; so when do you use To and when do you use For?
First, let’s focus on TO:
To is used when indicating the direction of something or when someone or something is moving from one place to another.
We walk to school every day.
She’s flying to New York this month.
They are going to the beach.
Talk to your boss tomorrow if you have a question.
The package was mailed to Mr. Johnson today.
Send it back to me.
I sold my laptop to her.
To is used to give a reason or a motive.
I came here to see you.
* Note: to see is a full infinitive (to+verb)
To is used for giving time with minutes and the hour.
It’s quarter to four. (3:45)
To is also used to mark the end of a period of time, always used with the preposition from indicating the beginning of a time.
He studies English from Monday to Friday.
When to use FOR:
For is used to indicate the length of an activity.
He studied French for 3 years.
She has been famous for many decades.
That is all I have to do for today.
For is used to indicate the use of something in particular.
This room is for student presentations.
For is also used to a) give a reason or motive, or b) to indicate benefit done for something or someone.
a) Let’s go out for a drink tonight.
We are so happy for you!
I baked a cake for her birthday.
Sara has been studying for her final exam.
He put a note on his door for privacy.
I am sorry for your loss.
b) Bananas are good for your digestion.
I bought this gift for you.
She exercises every day for her health.
For is used when scheduling an activity.
We made a doctor’s appointment for March 10th.
I rescheduled my meeting for Tuesday.
As you can see above, both TO and FOR are used for a reason or motive. Here are other examples to compare:
She came to Peru to work.
She came to Peru for a new job.
* Notice that TO follows a verb and FOR follows a noun (job).
My best friend brought lunch to me.
In this sentence, my best friend delivered pizza to me; she physically came to give me the pizza.
My best friend brought lunch for me.
In this sentence, my best friend paid for my lunch as a nice gesture.
Alex made a quick phone call to her dad.
In this sentence, Alex called her dad intentionally.
Alex made a quick phone call for her dad.
In this sentence, Alex’s dad was not able to make the phone call himself. Alex called instead.
Did this post give you a clearer comprehension on when to use To and For? Let me know in the comments section! Next week, I will be posting about another grammar topic. If you have any requests on what you would like to see next (as a blog post or a YouTube episode) click on the Contact section up at the top and leave me a message.