The difference between To and For when used as preposition in a sentence. Literally it’s confusing for ESL students which one to use, here the difference between to and for is discussed below.
How to Use To and For
When to use ‘To’?
‘To’ has two uses. It can be a preposition. It can also be an infinitive marker. When to is used as a preposition it is followed by a noun which acts as its object. When to is used as a infinitive marker, it should be followed by a verb.
Use To in the following situations
When to is followed by a noun, pronoun or gerund, we use it in the following situations.
- We are going to Karachi.
- They are migrating to Europe.
2. Time (Minutes before the hour)
What time is it?
- It’s quarter to three.
- At quarter to four, we are going to begin the match.
- It’s about 6p5 Km from Quetta to Karachi.
- It’s about ten miles from my house to the university.
4. Comparing things
Remember we cannot use the word ‘with’ for comparison instead, we use ‘To’.
- We want to compare the classes with each other. = Incorrect
- We want to compare the classes to each other. = Correct.
- I prefer drinking tea to coffee.
- I prefer reading to watching film
5. Giving something to someone
- I gave the ball to the keeper.
- She has given a letter to me.
6. When to is preceded by verb, it may indicate ideas such as: purpose, motive or reason.
- I came here to see you.
- I work hard to pass the exam.
Use ‘For’ in the following situations
- Laughing is good for health.
- Vegetable is good for your digestion.
2. Period of time
- I have been teaching here for two years.
- They have lived in Quetta for three years.
- I made an appointment for Monday.
- We have postpone the test for Friday.
4. Doing something to help someone.
- Could you carry these books for me.
- The students requested their teacher to explain the lesson for them.
5. When ‘for’ is used to indicate reason or motive it is used with a noun.
- Let’s go for a dink.
- We want to go for hiking.
Showing Purpose TO and FOR
Both ‘To’ and for can be used for somebody’s purpose of doing something but the structures are different.
For is used to talk about purpose only when it is followed by a noun.
- I came to Islamabad for a new job.
- I went to workshop for meeting.
For cannot be used before a noun to express a purpose instead, we use to + followed by a verb.
- I came to Islamabad to have a new job.
- I went to workshop to meet my friend.
For can be used before an -ing form to express the purpose of a thing.
- Knife is used for cutting things.
- Knife is used to cut things. =( More natural)