How to Use To & For Correctly in English Sentences

Prepositions in general are pretty easy to confuse. For some of you, part of the problem is that with these propositions, you’re thinking about the way that you use them in your own language. English prepositions must be learned and practised in context with other words. So we won’t focus too much on each individual preposition in this article. We’ll look at words that they’re often used with.

In this article, I’ll go over them in a little detail so that you can feel more confident using them, while you write, while you speak in English.

What are the four different situations where we commonly see the proposition ‘to’ being used?

1.direction/destination
Do you usually take the bus to work?

2.time/time between two pints
It’s a quarter to seven.

3.preference
I prefer summer to winter.

4.limit/end point
During the flood, the water came to my knees.

Let’s check out what ‘for’ is used for now.

1.benefits
We can talk about benefits using ‘for’.The positive effects or result of sth. For example,
One of the benefits of eating ginger is that it helps your immune system.(Ginger is great for your immune system!)

Exercising every day is good for your health.

2. duration/period of time
We also use ‘for’ to talk about time. We use it when we’re doing sth over a period of time.
We do sth for a duration.

(1)They’ve been living in the city for 3 years already.
(2)How long have you been studying medicine for?
(3)I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes already, Where are you?

3.helping someone
(1)I baked a cake for my sister.
(2)I need to collect the mail for my grandma.
(3)Hey, can you grab those boxes for me?

4.function/use
We use ‘for’ when we’re talking about a function or a use. We use the form ‘for’ plus verb -ing

What is it used for?
It’s used for ___-ing.(driving, taking, drinking)

Yeast is an ingredient used for baking bread.
The camera is used for talking pictures underwater.

Now another very common use for these prepositions is one where both of them can be used.

1.reason/motive
You can use ‘to’ or ‘for’ to talk about a reson or a motive.But in this case, they are not interchangeable.
Use ‘To’ when the motive or reason is a verb.
Use ‘For’ when the motive or reason is a noun.

Why is he study English?
He’s studying English to apply(verb) for a job.
He’s studying English for work(noun).

My assistant brought lunch to me.
My boss brought lunch for me.(to help)

I said that learning to use prepositions in context is really important.It’s the best way to learn to use prepositions corrctly in English. Learning common collocations is going to be really useful for you.

He’s calling to apologise for missing the meeting yesterday!
He should apologise to his boss for missing the meeting yesterday.

apply + for (sth)
apply + to(person)

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