The difference between To and For (30+ examples Learn fast)

What’s the difference between TO and FOR? We use the words TO and FOR to show a reason for our actions. It’s why we do something.
TO is used with a verb. “I came to eat lunch.” (Eat is a verb.)
FOR is used with a noun. “I came for lunch.” (Lunch is a noun.)

TO and FOR

We use the words TO and FOR to show a reason for our actions. It’s why we do something.

  • I came TO eat lunch. 
  • I came FOR lunch.

Both of these sentences answer a WHY question. Why did you come? We can use the prepositions TO and FOR to answer these” WHY” questions and explain our reasons.

What’s the difference? How can I use these words correctly?

The difference is simple, 
TO will be used with a verb.

  • I came to eat lunch.  

FOR will be used with a noun.

  • I came for lunch.

  • I bought this computer to give to my daughter.
    (The verb give follows the preposition to in the sentence.)
  • I bought this computer for my daughter.
    (The noun phrase my daughter follows the preposition for in this sentence.)

TO and FOR meaning

According to the list on Wikipedia of the 100 most common words in the English language, the preposition TO  is number three! LINK
It’s the third most commonly used word in English. I think one of the reasons is the preposition TO has many uses, we can use it in many ways. 

The entry at Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries has 18 different uses. LINK

TO will be used with a verb to make the infinitive form. TO + a verb can show a reason.

  • I have a cup of chamomile tea every night to help me sleep.
  • Jamie exercises every day to stay healthy.
  • I’m going to the store to get some milk.
  • Scott went to the library to borrow a book. [Lend and Borrow link]

The Preposition FOR is another popular word, It ranks number 13 on the same list of the 100 most popular commonly used English words.
The same as the preposition TO, we can use it in many ways. 

The entry at Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries has 20 different uses! The definition we are using in this post is: used to show a reason or cause LINK

FOR will be used with a noun. FOR + a noun can show a reason.

  • I’m going to boil some water for a cup of tea.
  • Jamie exercises every day for his health.
  • I’m going to the store for some milk
  • Scott went to the library for a book he’s interested in.

TO you or FOR you?

TO – preposition: used to show the person or thing that receives something [LINK]

  • I want to give this to you. (Receive this) 
  • Josh sent a message to you this morning. Did you get it yet? (Receive the message)
  • If you’re not still sure I can explain it to you after lunch.  (Receive the information)

FOR – preposition: in order to help somebody/something [LINK]

When we do something for someone it’s like doing them a favor, helping them. 

  • Dave has translated the message into natural English for you.
  • I stopped by the store and bought some snacks for you
  • We saved some pizza for you if you’re still hungry. 

Compare these examples:

I replied TO Sean’s message by mistake. I actually wrote the message FOR Josh. 

For can be used to show who is intended to have or use something or where something is intended to be put – Josh was supposed to (intended to) get the message. [Suppose To or Supposed To link]

TO and FOR other uses

We also use the preposition TO in these cases.

Destination

  • I went to Canada last summer.
  • Let’s go to the movies this Saturday.

Giving

  •  I gave some chocolates to my wife.
  •  I gave some advice to Harry but I don’t think he’ll take it.

Distance

It’s a 6-minute walk to the train station.
It is a few kilometers to the library from here, I think we should ride our bikes.

We will use the preposition FOR in these cases

An amount of time

I’ll be gone for about 30 minutes.
Shelly has been in Jamaica for 6 days. She must be having fun.

Helping someone

  • I shovel the driveway for my neighbors when we get a lot of snow.
  • Lloyd always carries heavy bags for his wife.

Benefits

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables have lots of vitamins. They’re very good for you. 
  • Using less plastic is good for the environment.

Go TO Vs. Go FOR

We go TO a place or a location but we go FOR something we want to have. Compare these examples.

Got to school/college/university
Go to work
Go to the store
Go to the gym
Go to a movie
Go to Tokyo
Go to the bank
Go to bed
Go for a walk/ a jog /a drive
[The noun forms of verbs of movement]
Go for a drink/ a beer/ a coffee
Go for a bite
[Food or drinks are used with FOR]
Go for it!
[This means do your best to achieve something]

TO and FOR Conclusion 

To show a reason or answer a why question just follow this pattern: 

  • TO + verb
  • FOR + noun

Remember this basic rule and you will use these words correctly every time. 

TO or FOR quiz

Click here to open the Google Quiz in a new window.

TO vs FOR Quiz answer AUDIO

-Quizzes are a great way to test your English skill.
– Audio files are a great way to improve your English listening skills.
I put these two awesome tools together to really help you take your English to the next level. *This is audio of me reading the correct answers to the quiz. Don’t listen until AFTER you have answered the quiz questions!

TO Vs. FOR exercises pdf

Download the Quiz as a printable PDF worksheet. Great for teachers to use with private or group classes.

TO and FOR Infographic

TO and FOR Infographic

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