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TO vs. FOR: Difference between To vs For (with Useful Examples)

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The prepositions “to” and “for” are both commonly used in English, but they have slightly different meanings and uses.

TO vs. FOR

The preposition “to” is typically used to indicate a direction or destination, or to indicate a relationship of movement or action. For example:

  • I am going to the store.
  • The book is on the table next to the lamp.
  • I am sending an email to my friend.
  • He gave the present to her.

On the other hand, the preposition “for” is typically used to indicate a purpose or intended recipient, or to indicate a duration of time. For example:

  • I am saving money for a trip.
  • She made dinner for her family.
  • I am studying for a test.
  • He wrote a letter for me.

In addition, “to” and “for” are often used in combination with other words to create specific idiomatic expressions. For example:

  • “to be” – used to indicate a state of being
  • “to do” – used to indicate an action that needs to be done
  • “for all” – means everyone, every single one
  • “for good” – means permanently
  • “for free” – means without charge

It’s important to note that the meaning of “to” and “for” can sometimes overlap, and context is the key to understanding which preposition is more appropriate in a given sentence. Additionally, in some context the usage of “to” or “for” might be interchangeable without any significant change in the sentence meaning.

Examples :

  1. “I am going to the store” vs “I am going for the store” : Here “to” gives a sense of direction/destination towards store, whereas “for” might indicate the purpose or intended recipient(to buy something).
  2. “She is learning to dance” vs “She is learning for dance” : Here “to” indicates the direction and goal of the learning process, whereas “for” would indicate the intended purpose or outcome of the learning process.

In summary, the preposition “to” generally indicates direction or movement, while “for” generally indicates purpose or intended recipient.

Difference between TO and FOR

Difference between TO vs FOR | Image


When to Use TO

Motive/Reason (with verb)

  • I went to the store to buy milk.

What time it is

  • It was a quarter to six when I left.


  • I shall go to London next month.


  • It’s about ten kilometers from my house to my school.


  • prefer this dress to the one you were wearing yesterday.


  • He gave the pen to his friend.

When to Use For

Motive/Reason (with noun)      

  • I went to the store for milk.

Period of time

  • The couple took the house for 2 years.


  • A win is always good for morale.

Function – with verb (-ing form)

  • She had a special talent for learning languages.

Agree with

  • Are you for or against his idea?

Doing something to help someone

  • Could you carry my case for me?