Difference Between To And For

Both for and to can be used to talk about somebody’s purpose in doing something. The structures are different.

For is used to talk about purpose only when it is followed by a noun.

  • We stopped at the pub for a drink.
  • I went to London for a conference.

For cannot be used before a verb to express a person’s purpose. Instead, we use to.

  • We stopped at the pub to have a drink. (NOT We stopped at the pub for having a drink.)
  • I went to London to attend a conference. (NOT I went to London for attending a conference.)

For can be used before an –ing form to express the purpose of a thing.

  • An altimeter is used for measuring height above sea level. OR An altimeter is used to measure height above sea level.

When the clause has a person as subject, we usually use an infinitive to express the purpose of a thing.

  • We use an altimeter to measure height above sea level. (More natural than ‘We use an altimeter for measuring height above sea level.’)
  • The garden shears were used to clip the hedge. OR The garden shears were used for clipping the hedge.
  • We used garden shears to clip the hedge. (More natural than ‘We used garden shears for clipping the hedge.’)
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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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