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 English Grammar for ESL learners 


FOR - TO

(purpose or reason)



It is sometimes not clear what structure to use to talk about the use of an object
as opposed to the reason for using the object .
  • Use or function of things/objects

    To explain the function of an object, what it is used for, we use for followed by
    a noun or a verb in the -ing form.


    • What is this sponge for? (= What is its purpose or function?)
      It is for cleaning the sink.

    • What's this knife for? (= What do you use it for?)
      It's for opening oysters.

    • What's the new suit for? (= What are you going to wear it for?)
      It's for my new job. I want to make a good impression!

    • What's that knob for?
      It's for turning on the radiator.


  • Reason for doing something

    To explain why we do something, the reason for which it is done, we use the infinitive (example: to do).

    • What do you use this sponge for? (=  Why do you use it?)
      I use it to clean the sink.

    • Why did you turn on the radio? (= What did you turn on the radio for?)
      I turned on the radio to listen to the news.

    • Why are you running?
      I'm running to catch the bus.

    • Why do you study every day?
      I study every day to improve my level of English.

    • Why did you go to London?
      I went to London to visit Buckingham Palace.

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