To vs. For in English — What’s the Difference?
This lesson was originally published in May 2017. In April 2021 it was updated with new video content and a quiz.
My new English course is really important TO me or FOR me – which one is correct?
The prepositions to and for regularly cause stress and frustration for my students. Do you feel the same?
If so, this lesson will help.
Today’s lesson is focused on three situations when both TO or FOR can be used in a sentence. For example:
- To vs. for to indicate the reason or intention for something
- To vs. for to indicate the recipient of something
- To vs. for when to indicate the importance of something
In this lesson, you’ll learn HOW and WHEN to correctly use the prepositions to and for in English. Plus, at the end, I have a short quiz for you.
How and When to Use the Prepositions To vs. For in English
Situation 1: To vs. For to Indicate Reasons or Intentions
Review these examples sentences and note the structural patterns of the sentences:
- I went to Spain FOR a wedding.
- I went to Spain TO see my best friend.
- I stopped by the grocery store FOR some coffee.
- I stopped by the grocery store TO buy some coffee.
As you can see in these sentences, we use the following structures:
to + base verb + noun
for + noun
Situation 2: To vs. For to Indicate Recipient
In both sentences below, to and for indicate who the recipient is:
- Yesterday I bought a birthday card FOR my sister.
- Yesterday I bought a birthday card to send TO my sister.
When a verb — like send — indicates a transfer, exchange, or movement from Point A to Point B, we use the preposition ‘to.’
Here are some common examples:
- To GIVE something TO someone
- To SELL something TO someone
- To SEND something TO someone
- To MAIL something TO someone
Situation 3: Important TO me vs. FOR me
When highlighting the importance of something, both to or for could be used. But there’s a slight difference in meaning or focus:
- Important to me = indicates personal or sentimental value; something precious to you
- Important for me = indicates or focuses on the benefit of something.
Here are two examples:
- My grandmother gave me this vase. Although it’s not expensive, it’s very important to me.
- The interview I have next week is important for me; it could open some new career opportunities.
Quiz: Prepositions To vs. For in English
Get answers to the quiz below.
1. After a lot of practice and preparation, she feels ready_____ give her presentation.
2. After a lot of practice and preparation, she feels ready_____ her presentation.
3. I can’t forget to order flowers _____ my friend’s birthday.
4. One of my students told me that the opportunity to get practice and feedback on job interview questions was important ____ her confidence.
5. When you’re finished with that draft, will you send it ____ me by email?
How did you do with the quiz?
Here are the answers:
When you complete this lesson, I’d love to hear what was most helpful to you. You can share your comments, questions, and more in the comments section below. Have a fantastic Wednesday!
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This was a good and simple lesson. Until now the preposition FOR and TO was a random choice while speaking English.
Thanks for another extremely useful lesson! Great clarification!
Thank you very much,Now I can distinguish how to use to vs for,be blessed
Thank you it was very helpful and removed my mistakes. Now I can better distinguish between them.
I´ve been trying to understand how to use TO and FOR and now I realize I can do it…
It is amazing. Thank you…
I’m so glad to hear that, Marcos!
It‘s very helpful, thank you!!
Great practice, thankyou AnneMarie
Thanks againj, the for today clarifies some questions I used to have.
It was great and very clear the examples and use about for or to
Thank you for your video
Hello Annemarie, thanks for your video about TO & FOR
now I need to be aware and practice
This lesson is precious for me and I’m happy that my answers are correct. Million thanks to you.
Hi Annemarie, you’re really an inspiring person and it’s always a great pleasure to listen to your lessons. The situation 3 is now quite clear to me 1- Regular physical activity is highly recommended for our health 2- My daughter’s recently adopted a cat named “sweety” she’s precious to her!
Please, have you got a lesson regarding “GET”? Its use, substitution…
Thank you for your guidance.
I got perfect! Thank you so much for this lesson, Annemarie. Oh, I use for in my sentence. Did I use it correctly?
Thank you so much. I finally learnt the difference. I will try to find more exercises so I can practice them even more. Can you please suggest for me an English grammar so I can practice after your classes? Thank you
I’m so glad this was helpful, Valeria! Can you clarify, are you looking for a grammar book?
Thank you and make me clear to understand using to vs for
Thank you,,,,it’s so useful…..
Уour explanation is so clear and strong and follows emotional feelings and great pronunciation every time makes me happy. Grand thank you.
Thank you, Lyudmila. I’m so glad to know that.
Oh these three situation was so much important for me.
Thank you so much, Annemarie!
Those are very explicit about what you explained in the three situations. That is a superb way to improve my English writing.
Thank you Annemarie,
Three situation examples are clear for writing & reading. .
As usual, it’s pretty interesting to attend your lessons ; it’s a pleasure and I enjoy this moment every Wednesday !! Here I send you my sentences : 1- For Mother’s Day, my daughter who is living in Florida sent me a very beautiful handmade card. 2-For my daughter, making gift cards is a hobby, actually, she is an engineer in industrial chemistry. She likes collecting different things like buttons, fabrics, dried flowers, beads, shells, to create a masterpiece … 3- Before I got retired, I have been working in a middle school for twenty years, I founded a reading… Read more »
1.I’m looking forward to talk to my friend today for planning to making the dishes for dinner party.
2.Yesterday I went to market for buying some vegetables and fruits.
These are the two sentences where I used to and for simultaneously.
Dear Annemarie I applied for a job at one company but still I think they are not in hurry to appoint the person for work soon. I try to use To Vs For in my examples sentences, please check these sentences.
I like your lessons and your style of speaking,both because your confidence about teaching English is amazing.
Really great job but i have an issue with this example
I can’t forget to order flowers _____ my friend’s birthday
i solved to because of( to order ) that indecate movement
Great job I have been learning a lot from you
You’re awesome at what you do! Prepositions are tricky and confusing but you clarified these two pretty well! Thank you:)
😍Thank you so much, Nisey!
It is an great lesson. I love the way you teach. I just have to practicing using these two preposition to don’t forget how to use them propertly.
🥰 Thank you. I’m so glad to know this was helpful.
Annmarie you are on the focus to give the best way to understand the difference between to vs. for…I hope that I’m doing well in the previous sentence… thanks
Thanks for the kind comment, Mercedes!!
Excellent lesson, very clear with the least efforts cleared the confusion sometimes these two words create for me. Many thanks and keep up the excellent work, you are the best and good luck.
Thanks for the comment, Lee. I’m glad you enjoyed the lesson.
Of course, I have had difficulties understanding the use of TO vs FOR. This was my first lesson, and my teacher was who told me about it. She is adorable! And this information was so important for me!
Thanks for watching, Alicia. I’m glad it was helpful.
Excellent and very useful. Thanks a bunch!
You’re so welcome.
Thank you for the lesson! It was great 😊
I got all the right answers.
I have always loved english grammar, dispate it can be tricky sometime.
This regard, I would like to listen to a lesson about verbs with double object.
Could it be possible?
Thank you in advance.
I’m so pleased this was helpful! And you’re right, English grammar can definitely be tricky.
Can you give me an example of a verb with double objects? I’d love to add this to my list of future lessons!
I love your lesson because it’s of great importance mainly when addressing these prepositions. It becomes very confusing to decide where we can appropriately use the preposition ‘to’ and ‘for’, but with the help of your lesson now we do understand the difference and where we can use ‘to’ and ‘for’ correctly.
Hi Moses and thank you for your comment. You’re totally right – using prepositions is challenging and, most of the time, confusing. We’re happy to know you found the lesson helpful, and now, you have a clear understanding of how to use “to” and “for”.
This lesson was very helpful for me! Thank you Annemarie!
We’re so glad to hear the lesson was helpful to you, Nataliya! Thank you for your comment.
Hi Anne Marie! As usually, also this lesson it is clear and I find your way of teaching very important to me.
Every time, I learn english whithout stress and improve my knowledege.
This exercise it’s very simple but necessary for train my brain and clear mistake.
I want send to you my gratitude for your precious job.
I love hear and watch your video so much <3
Thank you for everything
Thank you so much, Cinzia, for your lovely comment! We’re happy to know that you enjoy the lessons and find some food for your brain. We wish you much success in your learning.
Hello Annemarie, I would like to thank you so much from bottom of my heart for this highly educated lesson. I want to say more than that. You are such a kind and warm person. As for me, I love watching your incredible videos. Nowadays we have much more flexibility and ability . We can find out and research a ton of information and use it in our life. But your information is the best !!! l am addicted to mail and send massages to my friends and my large lovely family because they are more important to me than… Read more »
What a lovely message, Ludje. Thank you so much. I am truly happy to know my lessons are helpful to you and bring you joy. 🥰
Your lessons are always very helpful for my fluent English. 🙂 thank you so much.
I’m so glad to hear that!
Where is the link to get the right answers? I can’t find it:(
Hi Oksana, the answers are available in the lesson, at the bottom.
Thank you very much. This lesson is very important TO me : )
Awesome! I’m glad to hear that.
Thanks for this lesson! It was very cleary and helpful!
I’ve juste one question about the Quiz:
Thank you again Annemarie! See you next week!
Hi Anna Beatriz,
This question in the quiz is focused on Situation 1 – giving a reason for something. Why am I ordering flowers? For my friend’s birthday. 😊
You are a great teacher. Thanks a lot. I am proud of being your student.
Thank you so much Annemarie, this is exactly the kind of lesson I need, simple and super useful, I think I will never forget the rule about these two simple but deceptive words. So this lesson was very useful for me too!
P.S: I answered the quiz correctly. Yay!
Awesome, Annalisa! Congrats on a perfect score with the quiz! 🙌
And I’m so glad to know this lesson was helpful. These two little prepositions certainly are a challenge, so I’m happy to provide clarity on how to use them. 😊
Thanks a lot, this lesson was very helpful for me
You’re so welcome, Ana! I’m so glad it was helpful! Great use of ‘for me.’ 😊
Hello! I’ve been searching for this kind of video and it was very helpful. I have so questions though
Can I apply the same way of thinking to other verbs as well? For example: difficult
ex: difficult to me would be personally difficult and difficult for me would me specific about some activity.
Or, which one would be the best: it sounds natural TO me or FOR me?
Or It’s different TO me or FOR me?
Thank you so much!
I REALLY ENJOYED THIS VIDEO ! THANKS SO MUCH! I WILL FOLLOW YOU SINCE TODAY!
Hi. you are amazing. I was looking for the part two of this lesson, where only to or only for are possible.
I found your video very helpful. I`m a SEL teacher.
Can I ask you whether these two sentences are correct:
“He lent me a book ” and ” He lent a book to me.”
Thanks for the question. Both sentences are correct.😊