Often we find ourselves confused between the two most common prepositions, ’To’ and ‘For’ and that is simply because they both more or less have got the same meaning which makes it difficult to identify the preposition that has to be used.

The problem is faced not only by non-natives but also by the native people. So what is the difference between ‘For’ and ‘To’? In a nutshell, ’For’ is used when there is some relation with the time, and ‘To’ is used when we are trying to indicate a thing, purpose, or even a situation towards which we are heading to. Apart from this, there are a lot of minute differences also which we will be elaborating on in this article.

So without wasting any time further let’s look at each of the prepositions in detail and how they vary from each other!

What Does ‘For’ Denote?

The word ‘for’ can be used in various ways. The major usage of the preposition ‘for’ is to show ‘purpose’. For example,

  • ‘I am opting this subject for more credits.’
  • ‘We are planning to throw a party for her.’
  • ‘Rob agreed to do the job for free.’

In addition to indicating ‘purpose’‘For’ is often used to indicate the destination or the final outcome. For example,

  • ‘We will be leaving for the bus station soon.’
  • ‘The dress was out for delivery.’
  • ‘The train for California leaves in 2 hours.’

Many a time,’ for’ is also used to indicate a period of time. For example,

  • ‘Sarah was stuck in the traffic for a few hours.’
  • ‘I felt the tremors, just for a couple of seconds.’
  • ‘After hearing the news, the entire city was dumbfounded for an hour.’

Apart from the above-mentioned usage,’ for’ is also used to indicate the ‘price’ for a particular thing. Let’s have a look at the examples.

  • ‘The tickets for the show were selling for 400 dollars.’
  • ‘The main act is by a famous singer and for that, he is asking for a huge sum of money.’
  • ‘I am not going to pay $100 dollars for a duplicate product.’

It might surprise you that sometimes ‘For’ can be used not just as a preposition but also as a conjunction. Read the examples to get a better understanding of the same.

  • ‘We will elaborate on it, for it might be useful.’
  • ‘He gets sick quite often, for he always eats unhealthy food.’
  • ‘For the betterment of our employees, we decided to leave the project.’

What Does ‘To’ Denote?

Another Preposition that is being used a lot is ‘To’.the main usage of ‘to’ is to indicate a plan or an action. For example,

  • ‘I am planning to do my master’s from York university.’
  • ‘The Board of directors decided to relocate their headquarters.’
  • ‘She decided to do the dishes first.’

‘To’ is also used to indicate time or a range with respect to some. For example,

  • ‘The event is going to start at 9.00 pm.’
  • ‘The police are unsure about the exact number of deaths but according to them it’s between 40 to 50 people.’ 
  • ‘The next training session will have 5 to 10 group activities.’

‘To’ is also sometimes used to indicate possession or to express some sort of relation. For example,

  • ‘My best friend is like a sister to me.’
  • ‘Monkeys have got a larger head in relation to their eyes.’
  • ‘In comparison to our sales, we have earned a negative return.’

‘To’ is also used as an infinitive verb which means that ‘to’ acts as a verb and not as a preposition. For example,

  • ‘I wish to stay in this country for my entire life.’
  • ‘Mary wants to be a leading surgeon.’
  • ‘Try to follow this recipe, without my help.’

Difference Between ‘For’ And ‘To’

Let's have a look at the set of differences that exist between ‘To’ And For’.

Meaning

‘For’ is used to indicate either distance, time, or purpose. For example,

  • ‘This fundraising for a noble cause.’
  • ‘The event will go on for another hour.’
  • ‘Walk for another 20 minutes and you will reach the hotel’

‘To’ is used to indicate some action or time or quantity. For example,

  • ‘We need to get this done before Monday.’
  • ‘She is going to take two gifts for her niece.’
  • ‘The timings for the show are from 4 am to 6 pm.’

Usage

‘For’ can be used as a conjunction. For example,

  • ‘The soldiers got themselves ready, for the war was about to start.’
  • ‘I called her and canceled the plan, for I was unwell.’

‘To’ is also used as an infinitive verb. Over here, we use ‘to’ as a verb. For example,

  • ‘She wants to help me out with the project.’
  • ‘Make sure to check the noticeboard.’

Comparison Chart: ‘For’ Vs ‘To’

Point Of DifferenceForTo
As an Adverb‘For’ cannot be used as an adverb.‘To’ can be used as an adverb.
Specific Usage‘For’ has a more general use.‘To’ has a more specific use than compared to ‘For’

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the saying ‘To be or not to be’ mean?

‘To be or not to be’ is a famous saying from the book ‘Hamlet’ by Shakespeare. It means to live or to die. The writer came up with this question because according to him human life is miserable and death would be a better option.

What does the term ‘For The Birds’ mean?

‘For the birds’ is an idiom from American Slang which means useless, worthless, or boring. For example:

‘Their opinions on cryptocurrency are for birds.’
‘This business journal is a complete waste of time and is for the birds.’

Conclusion

We hope that you have obtained an understanding of how to use ‘to’ and ‘for’ and the way in which they differ from each other. Although it looks seemingly impossible to get a grip over the usage of the prepositions with continuous efforts you will be able to master the language.

The best way to ensure that you do not mess up with the words, follow the above-mentioned guidelines and you are good to go!

References