TO or FOR? Prepositions in English

VIDEO: English Lessons with Adam – Learn English with Adam [engVid]


'To' and 'for' are prepositions that are often confused. Although they are used in almost all situations, many people do not know which one to use in which situation. This grammar lesson will give you some tips on how to choose the correct one to make your speech and writing smoother. Take the quiz on this lesson here:

Hi again. Welcome back to I'm Adam, and today's lesson is about prepositions; everybody's favourite little words that get in the middle of everything and cause you lots of troubles, and headaches, and confusion. Especially if you're writing, this is the worst part, but even if you're not; always causes problems.

Today's prepositions that we're going to look at: "to" and "for". Now, there isn't really a set rule for these prepositions; they can be used in many different ways. What I'm going to try to show you today is when to use "to" instead of "for", when to use "for" instead of "to". Now, to do that, we first have to look at why or situations in which we use these prepositions. 

So let's start. If you want to express a reason, – okay? -, then you're going to use "to" or "for". 
"I went to the store", why? "To buy milk." "I went to the store", why? "For milk." 
What's the difference between these two? Should be very clear I think. Here I have a verb, here I'm only talking about the noun so we use "to". Now, technically, this is not a preposition. Okay? This is an infinitive verb marker, but it looks like a preposition so we'll treat it as one for now. Verb, noun, that's the difference when you're talking about reason. 

Now, before we go to the next one, I want you to look at this: 
"I went to the store", whenever you have sort of a movement, – sorry -, and you have a destination… So by movement I mean: "go", "walk", "drive", "take the bus", for example. Anything that involves you moving or going somewhere and then you're talking about the destination, – means the place that you are going to -, it's always going to be "to". And this is very much a preposition showing direction. Okay? Now, there are of course exceptions. There are situations where you can use "for". "Head for the hills", "Make for the lobby", okay? But very, very specific situations, very specific verbs and you're not going to use them that often because they're not as common. Easier to just use "go", okay? 

Next: if you want to point out a recipient. What is a recipient? A person who receives something. Okay? 
"Give this to her.", "This is for her." 

Now you're thinking: "Well, her, her, what's the difference? They look exactly the same." So here is why I wrote: "verb". In this situation, you're not worried about the preposition, you're worried about the verb. In this case: "give", in this case: "is". Okay? When you… Again, when you have motion… And here, "her" or the person is like a destination; it's not a place, but it's the recipient. Recipient is similar to a destination except you have place and person. Okay? If you have motion and recipient, use "to". When you have situation, then you're going to use "for". Okay? So it all depends on the verb, not the preposition.

Now, another example: 
"Can you send this fax to her?" "Send" means motion, you're going to be doing something, you're going to be moving something. 
"I made this cake for her." 
"Made" — you're not moving anything, nothing's changing hands. Right? You made it, this is the situation and it's for her. Eventually she will be the recipient. "I made this for her. Can you give it to her?" Right? So I'm using both: one motion "to", situation "for".

Save on your hotel -
Translate »